Mingle with Stringile | Digipath Labs Part 1 | Episode 24

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Happy #MinglewithStringile Monday! This week Stringile mingles with Mobius Trimmer in Part 2 of their feature.

The Mobius M108 Trimmer is up first and can run up to 140 lbs per hour through dry product. Second is the Mobius M210 Mill that can easily mill up to 100 lbs per hour.

Two efficient and integral pieces of equipment to the industry and both brought to you by Stringile and his Ancillary Department here at Vitalis. Get in touch with us to learn more.

 

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Mingle with Stringile | Mobius M108 Trimmer + M210 Mill | Episode 23

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#MinglewithStringile is back and he's got a fresh new set of videos and webinars coming at you in 2020.

Tune in here for a brief introduction to what Mike and his Ancillary Department offer here at Vitalis, and get a look at Part 1 of 2 of our Mobius Trimmer features. Part 1 highlighting the Mobius CannBucker MBX here.

And don't miss the first of our webinar series, Ancillary 101 coming January, 21. Mike will be walking you through all the stages of getting your plant from soil to oil. Register today http://bit.ly/387G1ac

 

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Mingle with Stringile | Mobius CannBucker MBX | Episode 22

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#MinglewithStringile

#MinglewithStringile is back and he's got a fresh new set of videos and webinars coming at you in 2020.

Tune in here for a brief introduction to what Mike and his Ancillary Department offer here at Vitalis, and get a look at Part 1 of 2 of our Mobius Trimmer features. Part 1 highlighting the Mobius CannBucker MBX here.

And don't miss the first of our webinar series, Ancillary 101 coming January, 21. Mike will be walking you through all the stages of getting your plant from soil to oil. Register today http://bit.ly/387G1ac

 

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Mingle with Stringile | Vitalis Tradeshows | Episode 21

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Stringile may be too busy to Mingle this week, but we have our Director of Sales & Business Development, Jason Laronde taking over to tell you all about where you can find Vitalis around the world in the next couple of months.

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Keeping it Real: Edibles, Concentrates, and Topicals

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Has it been a year already? Marking the anniversary since the legalization of cannabis in Canada brings with it an even more exciting milestone for the market - the addition of edibles, concentrates, and topicals. It's a promising step for the industry at large in encouraging healthy competition. More importantly, it shines a light on the behind-the-scenes work to ensure safe practices and responsible processing for every product bound for the market.   

Legalization 2.0

Reaching this point in the journey of legalization certainly didn't happen overnight. It's a significant shift in both policy and mindset that hasn't happened since the end of alcohol prohibition. In fact, this recent news has been in the works for years, just not out in the open. A task force comprised of consultants, federal bodies, and industry experts have been leading studies and gathering facts to develop the framework for what's been coined 'Legalization 2.0'. 

What took so long exactly? Most of those closed-door conversations centered around establishing what safe consumption limits looked like, which standard packaging rules to apply, and how to enforce specific marketing standards. As straight forward as those measures may seem to anxious consumers, it's a learning curve that will take some time for even for the most prepared in the industry to get right, and a valid reason behind the uncertainty on how soon products will hit stores. In line with Health Canada’s mandatory 60-day notice period for companies to submit documented proof of compliance, it's assumed the mass availability of such products won’t happen before January of 2020. 

For more information on Canadian Regulations, visit the Government of Canada website

A Battle with the Black Market

While a progressive move, Canada's strict regulations on cannabis are set to ensure the health and safety of the public, with ambitions to displace the industry’s black market. Global research consultancy firm Deloitte estimates that the second wave of cannabis legalization is expected to open a $2.7 billion market in Canada, with cannabis-extract-based products accounting for about $1.6 billion. Figures like these pose a question of how the 'bad guys' fit into that future equation. Recent scandals of THC-vaping products suggested to be tied to illegal vendors have created an air of caution with consumers and opened the gates of opportunity for those able to answer the demand with safe, consistent, and affordable product lines. As the legal industry matures and responds to the factors that have kept the illegal side booming -- which include cost, location, and supply -- it’s bound to cut deep with the black market.

From gummies and creams, cookies, and shatter, keeping these edibles, concentrates, and topicals pure doesn't start in the storefront, rather begins in the stage of turning flower into extracted oils. When it comes to extracting with the cleanest process and producing a pure broad-spectrum output, CO₂ remains the reigning champ. Unlike butane and ethanol methods that are toxic and flammable, CO₂ extraction uses temperature and pressure to produce a clean, quality pull of essential compounds. No harsh residual chemicals or contamination of harmful toxins within the final product - be it concentrates, topicals and edibles - means you can count on it being 100% pure cannabis, and 100% safe.

Learn more about the pure process of CO₂ extraction in our Guided Tour

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Mingle with Stringile | Vitalis Fabrication Facility Part 2 | Episode 20

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Stringile is back Mingling in the shop and this week he gives you a more in-depth behind-the-scenes look at our newest fabrication facility at Spectrum Avenue with our Plant Manager, Kyle Lunder.

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Top 3 Skills to Look for in an Operator

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The success of the most sophisticated systems in the world, from planes and trains, to computers, and medicine are all dependent on one thing - their operators. A testament that no matter how complex a design or automated a process might be, there still needs to be an expert in control. Extraction is no different. In fact, the reliability of your investment depends on the men and women balancing variables, comparing numbers, and using their intuition to reach an optimal output. How do you find the top talent to run the most critical part of your business? We’ve got you covered with the top three essential skills to look for in an extraction Operator. 

1. MECHANICAL APTITUDE

An Operator wears many hats when it comes to CO2 extraction, from handling biomass, and monitoring the flow of solvent to adjusting the pressure and conducting preventative maintenance tests. Talk about a long list of duties, which is simpler for those who come from industries that require the same knowledge, such as mining, oil and gas, heavy equipment operations, and other processing machinery. What exactly does experience on a rig have to do with operating an extraction machine? More than you think. Having a mechanical aptitude of any kind means being aware of the function of the component that makes up a complex system. 

Take the phase management aspect of CO2 extraction systems. It offers versatility and control of specific extraction parameters in the process, but with that comes a level of manual application - turning levers and setting pressure and temperature boundaries. It’s like hopping into a Ferrari. You better make sure you know what all the buttons do if you want to utilize the car’s full power potential and get the most out of the experience.

Coming from a similar industry and understanding the motions isn’t the only valuable takeaway. Previous experience also brings a familiarity with the technical terms of the job. To find someone who has not only mastered the craft but is fluent in the language around the process, equipment, and roles from day one, means saving valuable training time and resources.

2. CRITICAL THINKING 

As much as it is a science, let’s not forget that extraction is also an art. Sure the systems are meticulously designed and built to do the work, but some aspects require creativity. Operators are in a constant state of trying to strike the right balance with several variables - temperature, time, pressure, and more - all in an aim to find that extraction sweet spot. The pace of the industry is moving quickly, and with technical systems to match, having the ability to think critically has never been more precious to a company’s bottom line. 

Machines won’t always run the way intended, and troubleshooting won’t always be straightforward. Even having a system down for an hour is enough to cause a hard hit on profits. While Vitalis support will always be an option - we want to be our client’s last resort on account that an Operator was able to think on their toes and correct it themselves to ensure little to no downtime. A natural comparison is when a pilot receives an alert that there’s something wrong with the aircraft and has a very short window of time to fix it until things go downhill. Scrolling through a user manual would likely slow things down. So, what kind of pilot would you want in charge? If we had to take a guess, it would be someone with that natural ability to assess a situation, identify discrepancies, and create workable solutions to be communicated to an entire team. 

3. FOCUS

Optimizing throughput and efficiency when working long hours isn’t easy for everyone. Add to that having to follow a particular set of detailed instructions and record data means being alert and proactive as an Operator is a must.

It’s not just a skill we encourage our customers to seek when building their team. Being able to focus is a crucial aspect we look for in every one of our Vitalis Operators charged with performing our standard Factory Acceptance Tests before delivering the systems. Over an extended time, our team tests the equipment under minimum and maximum operating conditions for accuracy, safety, and consistency. We take it seriously, being one of the final people responsible for ensuring the systems are flawless.

SUPPORTING YOUR OPERATORS TO SUCCEED

Finding the right Operator with these three essential skills is one piece of the puzzle to extraction success. No matter who fills that role, it’s crucial they are fully equipped with the tools and the support they need to perform. Lending a hand to our customers and bridging that gap with training, manuals, and 24-hour assistance long after the systems are delivered to run their machines will always be a top priority. 

Want to learn more about setting your business up for success? Speak to one of our experts today. 

Mingle with Stringile | Vitalis Fabrication Facility | Episode 19

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Stringile may be away mingling off-site but he sends you best wishes for the week and has our Brand Specialist, Jaesin Hammer filling in to give you a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at our newest fabrication facility via our 360º camera.

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In Case You Missed It: GMP Basics

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Europe is the next big-ticket for medicinal cannabis, but it’ll take more than just having the right resources and team in place to make an entrance. The key to accessing this emerging market is having Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) accreditation. A requirement that all medicinal products come from a GMP accredited manufacturer is one of many strict regulatory measures the European Union has put into place. Their aim is to assure both regulators and consumers that the products are safe, consistent, fit for purpose, and of the highest quality.

As part of our Vitalis educational series, our team of experts recently led a webinar on the process of obtaining a GMP certification for the equipment. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped the most important points to consider.

What is qualification versus validation?
Validation is an act, process, or instance to support or collaborate something on a sound authoritative basis. Qualification is an act or process to assure something complies with some condition, standard, or specific requirements.

Does the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT)  include actual extraction performance as performed on the customer like feedstock?
No. The FAT includes running the machine at a minimum and maximum operating parameters with no product. It allows for any issues with the machine to be identified in the absence of the product.

Are all of your gauges also field calibratable for future Performance Qualification?
Yes, all of the sensors and gauges can be calibrated by a qualified professional in the field.

Does re-using and recycling CO2 present any GMP challenges?
Re-using any solvent in a GMP environment does pose a challenge. You must prove that the recycled solvent will not affect the product quality of future batches.

Is there any statement in any of the GMP schemes that define Calibration requirements during the maintenance/life cycle of the equipment?
GMP regulations do not state how often instruments should be recalibrated as every instrument will be different. Manufacturers may provide a recalibration schedule, but it is ultimately up to the customer.

How does the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) fit into the GMP documentation sphere?
Any task that is done in a GMP environment that affects product quality should have a SOP to support that task. Having a SOP ensures that the task has been evaluated and is done the same way every time.

Does the scope of GMP change based on the stage of the process? For example, does a solvent tank require the same surface finish as an extractor?
They do not necessarily need to have the same surface finish. GMP is a risk-based system. If the risk of microbial or chemical contamination of the surface is high, then a smoother surface would be warranted to allow for easy cleaning. The solvent tank will probably only contain solvent and no product. Depending on the solvent, the surface finish may be rougher as the risk of microbial contamination is low.

Who is responsible for verifying and providing the GMP certification, and is it different per jurisdiction?
Every GMP jurisdiction will have a regulatory authority with inspectors to carry out audits.

Are EU-GMP regulations the most stringent?
It is hard to argue who has the most stringent GMP regulations, but the most highly regarded regulations can be found in the US (FDA), the EU, and Japan. Traditionally the FDA has been the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers while the EU and Japan are the largest markets, both bringing with them their own set of mature regulations.

What insight do you have into the qualification process for multiple pieces of equipment from different manufacturers?
Each piece of equipment in a GMP environment needs to be qualified separately, regardless if they are from the same manufacturer or not. When using multiple manufacturers, the qualification effort may be more as each manufacturer may offer differing levels of support and documentation. If you can procure equipment from the same manufacturer, then you only have to deal with one company, which may streamline your overall GMP validation efforts.

Is EU-GMP easier or more cost-effective for CO2 extraction technologies versus ethanol extraction?
Both can be used for GMP purposes. However, it all depends on the products you are manufacturing, as well as the pre- and post-processing methods required. There are additional infrastructure requirements when using ethanol and getting ethanol of the required grade may be difficult depending on geography.

Are cannabis extractors currently required to be GMP certified in Canada?
Cannabis extractors do not need to be GMP certified in Canada; they must adhere to Good Production Practices (GPP).

Is it possible to operate a GMP certified piece of equipment in a non-GMP certified facility? i.e. can you get a qualification on the machinery, but not the whole facility?
GMP certification applies to the entire production process, so you can’t have GMP certified equipment in a Non-GMP facility. You can have equipment that is GMP compliant and that receives the qualification in a non-GMP facility.

Is it possible to have a fully compliant lab and make dangerous products?
Many common pharmaceutical drugs and foods such as coffee, if consumed in excess, can be toxic and, therefore, dangerous. Most pharmaceutical drugs, if not taken as per the manufacturer's recommendations, can have harmful effects on an individual. Every pharmaceutical drug has to go through an approval process, and part of that is determining the safe dosage. If the advice is not followed, then there could be harm to the consumer, but if the advice is followed, there should be no issues, and the drug can be considered safe.

What if your terpenes are made in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) facility, but you add too much to a cartridge and vape at too high of a temperature?
Take, for example, if terpenes are made in a cGMP facility, but too much was added to the cartridge and vape at too high of a temperature. This has been occurring in the USA due to very lax regulation at the state level on vape cartridges and no regulation at the federal level. Equally, it means the FDA, the agency tasked with protecting consumer safety, cannot. The only way to avoid such a thing is for cannabis to be brought within the scope of the FDA where they can regulate the vape cartridge contents and set limits.

cGMP is one part of consumer safety, but does that mean it is necessarily assurance of its safety?
GMP is meant to protect consumer safety during the manufacturing process of the product. GMP has nothing to do with whether the product itself is safe. Product safety is covered when a pharmaceutical drug is submitted to the FDA for approval and is what clinical trials establish. GMP will guarantee that the product has been manufactured consistently and to the highest possible standards.

Interested in learning more about GMP? Speak to one of our experts today