5 Essential Cannabis Facility Questions with Jeff Lair
1- Why is it so difficult to get cannabis facilities running properly?
A grow room is nothing like an average office room designed for people, instead the environment is designed for plants and constantly changing conditions. There’s a lot more to consider such as air movement, temperature, humidity, and water usage which are all essential the successful operation of the facility. A facility’s operation team needs to know how all the systems and equipment are affecting each other, especially how it affects their cultivation set points.
2- You’ve commissioned around 200 facilities to get them working properly; what are the most common challenges you’ve seen with Cannabis facilities after the original commissioning stage?
A lack of documentation of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). It’s common to see a larger turnover rate in this industry; having companies bring on new cultivators and key team members (due to a lack of performance, poor fit with company culture, or even scouted by another company). I’ve seen so many organizations that must begin the entire process again, causing learning curves and delays, which only increases the hurdles in an already difficult industry. This ranges from not only the style of cultivating, but also to all maintenance programs and crucial operating practices. Documenting every step in every procedure is the key to success – it will be well worth it!
3- What is the best way to check all systems to see if they are working in unison?
Be prepared! I like to tell everyone to plan for ‘Murphy’s Law’ and be ready for anything. Cultivators and Operations need to make the effort to understand their equipment and facilities capabilities. Once the facility has been commissioned, everyone wants to grow as fast as possible. However, it’s important to spend around 2 weeks doing trials of best and worst-case scenarios prior to loading your room with plants. This way you’ll see how all equipment and systems function in terms of reaching proper set points. Again, it’s always better to be prepared then learn on the fly, especially with such a valuable crop at risk.
4- What does DAG do to ensure their customer facilities are in working order?
Since DAG takes ownership in procuring all equipment and overviewing the entire design of the facility, we can assure all aspects within are being coordinated with each other. Taking leadership of the entire process assures timelines are met as well as all facets of installation and commissioning are done thoroughly and properly. Once construction is complete, we work with our partners on commissioning each piece of equipment, and additionally commission the facility holistically to assure it is operating as it should. Again, knowledgeable leadership is the key to insure proper integration.
5- What’s the #1 mistake you’ve seen with CEA facility operations?
A lack of understanding of how important the facility maintenance plays in creating a profitable operation. While most of the people new to cannabis think more canopy equals more profits, this is rarely the case. You need to understand best practices, operational flow, and proper upkeep of a facility. If you don’t consider operational efficiency thoroughly, and maintenance falls short on key equipment, it doesn’t matter how large your canopy is. Here at DAG, we say build your facility around your equipment, do not just try to cram your key equipment in to maximize canopy. The ability to work and operate around the equipment, along with proper SOPs, will keep your facility running efficiently.
In the end, you are running a production factory, so operational efficiencies and repeatable procedures go a long way.
Jeff lair is the Director of Architecture & Engineering at DAG. for more information, contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org