Interview Conducted by Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.
As human beings, we are often obsessed with the future. We plan for it. We worry about it. Whether we’re talking about flux capacitors, terraforming Mars, or a time when robots cook and clean, giving us the chance to live…the future is of the utmost importance. Never has this been more of an understatement than when considering the mushrooming growth of the industries associated with Cannabis sativa L.
Millions of people across Earth are seeking more natural ways of augmenting their health and vitality. Millions have wandered or intentionally migrated back to using cannabis and hemp to fulfill this exploration. Now add to these sizeable sums all of the people focused on cultivating the plants, extracting the panoply of molecular treasures from within the trichomes, and those tasked with ensuring that marketed products are safe for consumption. The portrait is as clear as it is breathtaking. The industries encompassing C. sativa are here, and are only going to get larger and larger and larger…
With these perhaps unparalleled increases in demand, scalability could be a tangible issue for companies seeking to venture away from a boutique status. Let’s say you have a 1-acre cannabis farm, which has done adequately, and is manageable. But now, with the recent surge in medical cannabis patients, and the ballooning cannabidiol industry, you want to grow much more vegetation. You’ve got five expert trimmers on staff to manicure the flowers, but how many might you need when your farm expands? And with staffing increases comes other overhead considerations that could mean price restructuring. Congruently, you’ve heard about machine-trimmers, but you’ve prided yourself on the best, plumpest, buds, and are worried that the machine will leave your harvest in tatters. Ah…the trials and tribulations of supply, demand, and the modern cannabis entrepreneur.
Cullen Raichart, CEO at GreenBroz, Inc. has been there. He’s earned his stripes as a hand-trimmer, and understands the paramount need of some business owners to market their beautiful buds. But he’s also a person rooted in reality, and he’s envisioned the days when hand-trimming may no longer be practical. And so, he and his colleagues at GreenBroz set out to create agricultural equipment with a defined purpose.
“I’ve heard lots of complaints regarding tasks needing to be performed by hand,” Cullen explained. “Our endeavor is about making alliances, forging our reputation, and listening to companies to see what the needs within the harvesting space are. We’re not just an equipment company. We’re a solutions company.”
“We’re looking at full automation,” Cullen added. “Other agricultural industries use these types of systems, and cannabis is next. These tools can change the game by limiting opportunities for theft, mishandling, and damage. Our machines give solid, repeatable quality from harvest to harvest.”
As the industry evolves, so must the traditional ways of thinking and problem-solving. Instead of asking how many trimmers are needed, Cullen hypothesized that grows will wonder what automated system(s) they’ll need. “If a grower starts ramping up production, are there enough people to do it? If you’re harvesting 500 or 1000 kilos a day, by hand, you may need 2000 people on staff!”
To date, Greenbroz has designed several time- and money-saving tools, including their flagship machine called the Model M dry trimmer, a dry-sifting machine for separating kief, a de-stemmer, a sorter for partitioning buds by size, and they carry a multi-scale micro-batching system with eight scales that work in tandem to accurately combine exact weights when portioning out a desired amount for packaging.
The Greenbroz dry-sifter, called the Alchemist, uses tumbling as a method of extraction, and is typically used on trim caught in bins under the dry trimmers, and not on flowers. Crushed dry ice can be added to the Alchemist, thereby flash-freezing the trichomes, subsequently breaking off the heads onto the tray. The dry trimmers use a flat disc with hundreds of small, scissor-like holes that gently remove the outer leaves from the flower. “Some tumblers are pretty violent”, Cullen added. “We’ve had client testimonials that show results where our dry trimmer is statistically the same or even higher in potency than the hand-trimmed flower.”
From a trimming perspective, Greenbroz carries two machines, which differ based on the scale of processing needed. Entry level, Mom and Pop, or smaller-sized gardens can utilize the “215”, which acts like a big pair of scissors. Model “M” is a bigger manual-loading machine. “Model M can trim 100 pounds in a routine 8-hr day, or put another way, it can do approximately 10+ pounds per hours,” Cullen elaborated. Greenbroz is also working on Model “Z”, which will be a self-loading machine that also weighs the product going in and coming out, and keeps track of the data.
The Greenbroz de-stemmer functions by pulling the stem through a hole, and popping the bud off. A scissoring hole changes with the size of the stem. The micro-batching machine weighs down to 1/100th of a gram. This is a feature that shouldn’t be discarded as nominal, since knowing that extra digit can prevent under- or over-packing. Weighing to the hundredths position (i.e. 3.51, 3.52 grams, etc.) can help standardize the packing process in a precise way that weighing to the tenths position (i.e. 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 grams) just can’t do. “If you’re over-packing by 10% or 20% for every pack, that can really add up,” Cullen remarked.
There are several obvious factors to consider when deciding which tools are right for the job, whether a pair of human hands, or the mechanical equivalent, is practical. These factors include scalability and cost. “I’ve seen some companies with 1,000,000 square foot grows, with a 500 square foot curing room!” Cullen remarked. “If you’ve invested $15,000,000 in your grow, you’ll need to spend some extra money on production to get it consistent.”
While some tools have been designed elsewhere, and then brought into the cannabis industry, which can be the square peg in round hole analogy, Greenbroz specifically sought and is still seeking to build and refine machines to do a specific task within the cannabis and hemp cultivation and harvesting arenas. “We’re industry-born,” Cullen proclaimed. “We took a lot of time and training to get these tools done right.”
“The best people for soliciting feedback are the people using your product,” he continued. “That helps us get our product matured more quickly.”
What’s interesting about Greenbroz is that Cullen discussed how multiple customers use their trimming machines, but don’t tell anyone. “Some will do 90% by machine, and touch up the rest by hand,” Cullen added. “Most see a big change in productivity, and say ‘I should have done this a year ago”.
What’s clear is that Greenbroz as a whole are focused on the future. “For us,” Cullen concluded, “the joy of all of this is helping people solve their problems.”