Automation of cannabis production

Cannabis growers are continuously looking for solutions to improve their growing operations. Automation can play an important role in this, says Maarten van der Gaarden, commercial manager at WPS. "Many of the processes can be easily managed, enabling growers to achieve better yield and eventually better profits." Time to discuss these opportunities! 

Improving by sharing
WPS has been providing automated logistical and handling solutions for the horticulture industry for over 25 years. They have worked with a variety of larger and smaller scale growing facilities. WPS has been able to automate growing areas, plant order systems, handling stations, plant tracking, and plant sorting through a variety of advanced technical solutions. The crops handled by these WPS systems range from all different kind of pot plants, like orchids, to potted sunflowers.

Now that the Medical Cannabis market is professionalizing, WPS feels its systems can help these medical operations with their track and trace needs, as well as optimizing floor space and offering solutions to reduce labor in the process.

Showing the systems
Next week, during the GreenTech exhibition in Amsterdam, WPS will organise the Automation Inspiration Tour to help growers learn more about these solutions. “The tour will start at WPS’s main office in De Lier,” Maarten van der Gaarden, commercial manager at WPS, explains. “We will start with a short presentation, after which we will visit three of our customers in the area by bus. At these locations we will be answering questions and further discuss the role of WPS in automation.”

“We want to show cannabis producers what the possibilities are to automate production and logistics in their growing facilities,” Maarten continues. “The cannabis industry is a growing market. But the latest growing and logistical processes of producing in a greenhouse might still be new to them. Thus, we want to showcase and prove the solutions WPS has to offer to this rapidly growing market segment.”

How it might work
By showing the systems on location in a working greenhouse environment and have the growers explain why they decided to go with WPS, they can give visitors of the tour an idea on how a solution might work if it were to be applied in cannabis production. "As a family owned business, WPS highly values this concept of sharing knowledge. We've installed over a hundred systems worldwide and we're continuously getting requests for solutions to automate production for a wide variety of crops", says Maarten.

Track and trace
But what are these solutions? One of the pressing issues within the medical cannabis industry is plant identification and traceability. WPS has track and trace systems operational with many customers in a variety of crops. "With track and trace, plants have a unique identification code, which for the medicinal market is of the utmost importance to identify your plants,” Maarten says. “Through this system, growers can identify and track each plant, thus being constantly aware of their status."

WPS offers different phenotyping solutions that collect in-depth data of plants. “This way, it is possible to analyse plant data and to better control the quality of the plants during their growing stages,” Maarten concludes. "We build phenotyping solutions for customers around the world. Now we see requests coming out of the cannabis market as well."

WPS cannabis tour
During the tour, WPS will show three different systems. The first is the “The SmartFlo system”, which consists of fixed automated conveyors that make the transportation of plants within the greenhouse extremely easy. “An important aspect in the cannabis industry is space utilization. We have seen operations in the US that were able optimize their production space by more than 20% by using SmartFlo", says Maarten.

Secondly mobile conveyors will be shown. "Used in situations where you need to move plants with a mobile system. This is a flexible conveyor system used within an existing structure so people will have to walk less around the greenhouse while moving plants."

Then there's the Walking Plants System. "This is a system with gutters in which plants are automatically placed, watered and fed. This system will enable you to have the highest level of automation possible. Considering that packing stations, watering stations, tracking / tracing and camera station can be integrated in this system, WPS feels that this last system can fill the need where facilities have to comply with legalities concerning the propagation of Medical Cannabis."

More information and registration:

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