Robots Could Be Guarding Your Marijuana
The marijuana industry may be growing a 1,000-year-old plant, but the companies are employing the latest in technology. Here come the robots and drones.
A grow facility in Desert Springs, Calif., owned by Canndescent is currently testing using a robot to patrol its outdoor crop. Todd Kleperis, Chief Executive Officer of Hardcar Security, which provides security services to the marijuana industry, said that using a robot in the evening to patrol a company’s inventory of marijuana plants saves money and is more effective. “At night guards sleep, they play video games and spend time on social media. It’s fraught with human error,” he said.
Kleperis also pointed out that it’s safer for human security guards to use robots. “If you’ve ever been shot at, it’s very scary,” he said. “These robots can take a gunshot better than a human.” They don’t shoot back at intruders, though Kleperis said that they are considering adding a pepper spray function. The mission of the robot is to detect whether anything is wrong, and alert human monitors.
Canndescent received approval from the town to test out the robots. Sharp Intellos makes the actual automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle or UGV that will secure the perimeter of the property. The company produces premium marijuana flower and is keen on protecting its investment.
Cannabis delivery company Eaze recently demonstrated the use of a drone for cannabis delivery at the Cannabis Cup in San Bernadino, Calif. Eaze doesn’t actually own any drones nor do any dispensaries employ their use at this time, but Eaze expects at some point they will be used. Sheena Shiravi, a spokesperson for Eaze said, “We see it in the future. It’s on the horizon.”
Automation is also promising to make the cannabis industry more efficient. At Smokey Point Productions in Arlington, Wash. President Brian Lade has automated many tasks in his cultivation process. At the start of the life cycle of his products, he employs automated seeding of the plants and automatic feeding of the plant. “This saves me from having a person mix the nutrients and do it manually,” he said.
Next, an automated trimming machine is used to process the harvested plant and then finished up with a hand trimmer. In the following step, an employee puts the product in the package and once it goes into the package, the machine does the rest. It’s sealed, bar coded, counted and then dropped into a box. A laborer puts the lid on the box and then it goes out to the store.
“It’s been a game changer,” Lade said. Smokey Point currently packages 30,000-50,000 units a month and at that rate, he must automate some tasks. His new facility will be ten times the size of his current place and he will need to package almost a million units a month – just for Washington state. Lade has plans to become the biggest producer in the state and wants to expand to other states and maybe even other countries.
As the industry matures, it has grown past the mom and pop operations of small farms. The facilities are getting larger and the crop sizes are multiplying. It will be necessary and cost effective for these producers to adopt any technology than can help. Since the industry is already on the alternative side of the coin, these owners are perhaps more apt to embrace the latest in automation.