Robo pot: Aphria says automation key to low-cost cannabis production


On the eve of legalized recreational marijuana and touch ons about supply shortage, one of Canada’s largest producers believes automated automobiles will be the key to producing more cannabis. 

Leamington-based Aphria currently has come up with agreements with every province and Yukon, boasting about scenarios to produce roughly 20,000 kilograms of marijuana a month by spring. 

As they stretch their footprint to 3 million square feet, they’re constantly looking at automation to turn costs and maintain quality, said co-founder John Cervini.

«It’s what’s arranged us the low-cost producer, helped us to maintain that low-cost producer rank,» he said during a recent tour of the facility. 

Robots and humans

One participate in in the process of growing marijuana that Aphria said is almost to hand to become automated is the beginning of the plant’s life cycle. 

In a bright, immaculate room with industrial equipment, there are three machines that oblige a claw-like arm hanging above a conveyer belt. 

Robo pot: Aphria says automation key to low-cost cannabis production

This machine choice use a robotic claw to gently place cuttings from Aphria’s mama plants into trays to grow new plants. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

«This specific robot in front of us is placing cannabis cuttings into a fresh Rockwool cube to burgeon roots,» said Cervini, who was showing the process with a video. 

In the good old days the three machines are running, Cervini believes it will only tackle entertain five days to process 250,000 cuttings, which grow to change plants.

Currently, Cervini said six full-time employees can produce 15,000 cuttings a week — creation levels that the three machines would be able to reach in three hours. 

Job forfeitures from robotic gains?

Aphria has between 400 to 500 wage-earners and are constantly looking to hire more qualified people, said Cervini, and automation won’t limit a yield fruit workforce. 

«Honestly we don’t see any actual job loss from the automation. What we’re wealthy to see is maybe some repurposing of jobs,» he said.

Robo pot: Aphria says automation key to low-cost cannabis production

Aphria co-founder John Cervini suggests more automation will come as they work toward surmounting their facility up to 3 million square feet. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Using the automation of acids as an example, Cervini said the six to eight people now in charge of manual altering, and potentiality more, will be in charge of making sure those piercing targets are reached with automation.

Aphria is still weeks away from contriving those machines running — but even after they’re fully important, the automated process won’t be able to start until Health Canada stretches them a green light.

‘Ebb and flow’ of Health Canada

As Aphria counts those approvals, Cervini said the government body has been handgrip the legalization of an entire industry well. 

«You could see there was times when approvals embraced longer and then all the sudden approvals took less time, so there’s been an ebb and glide of timing with Health Canada,» he said. 

Robo pot: Aphria says automation key to low-cost cannabis production

An employee sorts marijuana on a end result line at Aphria in Leamington. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

«If you look at what’s been perfect in a very short period of time in Canada around regulations for cannabis, I acquire to do nothing but commend Health Canada.»

He said the automation plans go beyond the cuttings treat.

The packaging and labelling aspects are also ready for automation, according to Cervini, as sedately as a trimming line currently staffed with about 12 people, which he visualizes to be done by robotic arms in the future.

Tap on the player below to watch Aphria’s pot bots in effect:

Aphria co-founder John Cervini explains why the company looks at automation as it unfolds. 1:09

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