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. 

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

5 Reasons to Love the Vitalis Implementation Process

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When you operate in a highly competitive landscape like extraction, there are pressures and challenges to deal with on a regular basis. From the market viability of a product, to ensuring optimal capacity for business gains, to ensuring the organization is providing a safe and productive workplace for employees, there can be an endless list of concerns for any business. With multiple projects going on at once, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

But from the moment a customer engages Vitalis as their extraction system provider, our service and implementation teams step up to the plate to ensure that the process from initial deposit to installation is a positive experience.

With a straightforward and proven plan for implementation, here are 5 reasons to love the Vitalis service and implementation teams.

DEDICATED HELP

Right from the point the purchase is finalized, the implementation team gets working. The account manager makes the introduction to a dedicated project coordinator who starts to work on the plan to get your system delivered and installed efficiently.

While each customer’s business is different, the pathway to installing a Vitalis system in your facility remains relatively the same. It is based on a project plan that has been executed on 4 different continents for numerous other members of the Vitalis family, continually proven successful. From initial kick-off, the project coordinator is dedicated to helping you get your facility ready for delivery and ensuring that you're aware of all timelines and milestones along the way.

Pre-installation documents are prepared to help identify electrical, plumbing, refrigeration and facility necessities before your Vitalis can be properly installed, and the project coordinator works directly with you to ensure that all requirements are met.

Having a dedicated project coordinator as your one point of contact helps streamline communication and move the project along efficiently. This can make the difference between excitement and disappointment as project goals are achieved. Throughout the implementation process, the Vitalis team of professionals are committed to an exceptional customer experience from start to finish.

CHECKLISTS AND CHECK-INS

With so many moving parts involved in setting up an extraction facility, there can be an overwhelming number of tasks and details that need to be addressed. But, with easy-to-follow documentation and checklists, the Vitalis implementation team makes sure that each of these items are documented, catalogued, and addressed with your team.

The project coordinator schedules delivery of the system components including the hot-water heater, refrigeration unit, and extraction system. Working directly with your tradespeople, the project coordinator will ensure clarity and open communication as these units are set up.

Before the first pieces arrive to your facility, exact instructions for installation will be provided to your site team. The project coordinator will also aid with equipment placement – for best workflow optimization, they will drop equipment models into the facility CAD layout you provide. Once equipment arrives on-site and is placed in the predetermined location, the first of two video walkthroughs are scheduled to verify all components before hard utility connections are made.

With all of the coverage from checklists to check-ins, the implementation team helps you stay ahead of the full scope of objectives for a smooth installation.

THE SETUP

Installation and setup of your new Vitalis extraction system is the final process in transitioning from build-mode to processing. From there, your hard work begins to pay off as your system will be fully operational and ready to produce the high-quality extract you need for product realization.

Vitalis equipment will arrive to your site in several large shipping crates. Following the detailed plan provided by your project coordinator, opening the crates and placing the equipment in its pre-determined location is a straightforward process completed by your site team. Once placed, your tradespeople can make the appropriate connections for the electrical, plumbing, and refrigeration following our detailed installation documentation. Completion of these connections moves you into the final step of pre-commissioning where the last video walkthrough is carried out allowing us to verify all installation tasks are complete.

The Vitalis commissioning team is dispatched to your facility following the pre-commissioning walkthrough and checklist verification. Once on-site, they make the final connections, test the equipment, and complete a first-run validation to make sure the system is in perfect working order. With a coordinated and practiced approach, the technicians finalize system installation, get sign-off on the necessary documentation, and green-light the equipment for use.

TRAINING

Once the equipment is fully commissioned, the fun really begins with a comprehensive training program for your operators. From individuals brand new to the industry, to experienced operators, the Vitalis technicians have trained a wide variety of people on how to operate the system safely and efficiently according to best practices.

It can be an intimidating experience working with a high-pressure, high-performance piece of equipment, but the training provided helps new operators gain comfort and confidence in their abilities to use the system. In the first days of training, your team learns best practices for operation, standard maintenance to keep the system running optimally, and how to start recovering rich, broad-spectrum oil extract.

This step is a culmination of all the work and effort put in, from the purchasing team to trades to operators. From here onwards, your lab and operators are ready to start processing, and your company is able to start producing.

THE ONGOING SUPPORT

In many common experiences, people have become accustomed to being left on their own, simply hoping that they have the knowledge necessary to succeed. It's become all too common for people to feel abandoned at this point, pressured to either sink or swim.

But working with a company like Vitalis, that just isn't an option. From initial purchase to install, the team has been by your side helping with preparations and arrangements, managing schedules and timelines, and providing training and education. At this point, there's no other way to raise the bar than to ensure that our service teams are available to assist with ongoing support. And because you're now a member of the Vitalis Family, supporting you is exactly what we do.

With 24/7 access to our technical support team, a scheduled on-site follow up in the first 6 weeks of operation (including additional training time), and the newly launched Vitalis Care program, you are backed by Vitalis’ commitment to customer success and excellence. Multiple lines of communication are available backed by the industry-leading Vitalis service team standing ready to help, so you can rest assured knowing that your extraction system is supported by the global leader in CO2 extraction solutions.

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GMP Documentation for the Cannabis Industry

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The legal medical cannabis industry is in full bloom across the globe. In North American markets, the dominant cannabis firms have firmly rooted their positions and are now setting their sights to Europe for new growth opportunities.

While medical cannabis is legal in a number of European countries already, it’s estimated that the EU's medical cannabis market could expand to over 123 billion euros within a decade.1

Gaining access to the EU’s medical cannabis market is no easy task – almost all medical cannabis that gets exported to Europe must come from a Good Manufacturing Practice accredited facility. Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is a best-in-class set of regulations that covers all facets of pharmaceutical drug production from raw materials, equipment, facilities, down to training and personal hygiene of staff.

GMP standards ensure pharmaceutical products are fit for purpose, high quality, consistently made, and safe for consumption. GMP regulations dictate that equipment must be made in a way that is streamlined, safe, and reliable.

GMP regulations are enforceable by law and once GMP accreditation is obtained, it must be maintained. Failure to do so can result in the loss of market access, fines, or class action lawsuits.

Gaining GMP accreditation has a double effect of providing access to new cannabis markets and improving your brand reputation. When consumers see a GMP-labelled cannabis package, they know the product is safe, clean, and will work as advertised. GMP certification also fosters trust with supply chain partners, which saves time and money when the time comes to make deals.

As an international GMP-compliant equipment supplier to the pharmaceutical and recreational cannabis industries, Vitalis specialists have a deep understanding of not only Canada's Good Production Practices (GPP) but GMP regulations around the world and will ensure that the qualification of the Vitalis equipment goes smoothly.

Since GMP rules are flexible and not a specific set of instructions, it’s the responsibility of every cannabis exporter to bring their production facilities into compliance with GMP rules. Due to the massive scope and highly technical nature of GMP, it’s vital to get the help of an experienced consultant early in the compliance process.

Bringing in a GMP Consultant:

A GMP consultant looks at your facility, equipment, processes, documentation, and even your supply chain to determine what is required to bring your facility into compliance, and how to focus your company resources on the highest impact areas.

Through the Validation process, you’ll create in-depth documentation proving that you’re in compliance with GMP rules every step of the way, so that your facility passes inspection the first time. While qualifying equipment is ultimately the customer’s responsibility, a GMP consultant will help you through the process.

What Documentation is needed for GMP Qualification of equipment?

A typical equipment qualification process will begin with the User Requirements Specification (URS), which outlines a customer’s regulatory, materials, construction, and safety needs. At Vitalis, we aim to reduce the validation burden on the customer by providing standardized URS documents that reflect our standard machine offerings as a starting point. Customers then review this document and work with Vitalis to tailor the requirements of the equipment to suit their processes.

Following the URS is the Design Qualification (DQ), which translates the requirements in the URS into the equipment design. For efficient auditing purposes, it’s critical to have traceability between the URS and the DQ. The results of the Design Qualification allow a customer to assess the suitability of the equipment for their facility.

Upon completion of the build and before shipping to the customer, a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) is performed. During Factory Acceptance Testing, the equipment is tested under the minimum and maximum operating conditions to ensure that it performs as expected. Measuring devices such as gauges and sensors are tested for accuracy, and safety features such as e-stops are checked to ensure they are operating as designed. The FAT is reviewed by the Vitalis Quality Team and supplied to the customer as part of the turnover package.

Before a piece of equipment can be used in production, it undergoes an Installation Qualification and Operational Qualification (IQ / OQ).

Installation Qualification is a process that includes checks to ensure equipment has been correctly installed. As well, it verifies that utility connections have been made properly, that the equipment has been placed in an acceptable location, and that it adheres to the manufacturer's design and install requirements.

Operational Qualification is the process of running the equipment at its maximum and minimum operating parameters to ensure the equipment performs safely and consistently at all operating ranges and provides verification that the system is ready for product runs.

Vitalis not only provides an IQ/OQ protocol as standard with every GMP machine, but our expert Service Technicians will also visit our customers to execute the IQ/OQ protocol.

The last qualification step is the Performance Qualification (PQ). The PQ is the documented verification that systems and equipment perform effectively under prescribed production conditions. That is, it qualifies the customer’s approved process methods and product specifications. While the customer is ultimately responsible for this qualification step, Vitalis can offer support when needed.

The Turnover Package (TOP) is the final set of documents in the qualification effort that provides the documented evidence that the equipment was designed, constructed, and tested in accordance with the customer's requirements. The Turnover Package includes material traceability records, certificates of compliance, engineering drawings, critical user information needed to maintain the system like maintenance intervals and procedures, and spare parts lists. It is also critically important that the documentation provided in the Turnover Package adheres to Good Documentation Practice, which outlines how documentation should be prepared, filled out and corrected.

Vitalis assembles a comprehensive Turnover Package for every GMP system built. As experts on the design and construction of the machines, it makes sense to ensure that all documentation is accurate and ready for delivery. Taking this step helps to reassure customers that their Vitalis equipment can be qualified for compliance within their GMP environment. It's just another way that Vitalis continues to lead the industry in GMP and customer support.

Talk to Vitalis about setting up a GMP-compliant extraction system.

1. Will Europe be the world’s largest cannabis market? https://www.healtheuropa.eu/medical-cannabis-market/90033/

The Vitalis Care Program: Extra Support for Your Machine

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At Vitalis, our dedication to customer support is a critical element to our continued success, which is why we are introducing Vitalis Care. The program is an addition to the 24/7 customer support that is provided to every Vitalis customer. This is a subscription service that can be purchased for your Vitalis extraction equipment, providing an added layer of care and maintenance to your operations and ensuring peak performance.

Upon subscription, the Vitalis Service Team will develop a detailed and customized schedule for quarterly 3-day site visits to perform several program specifics by one of our Service Technicians. This covers inspection and parts exchange, full system cleaning, and customized training and maintenance coaching.

1. Inspection

A Vitalis Service Technician will perform a full equipment inspection on all major and minor components. They will ensure that all Vitalis equipment is performing optimally to factory specifications. If any part of the system is found to be operating out of specification, the technician will address the issue with either a part repair or replacement. The system inspection will include, but is not limited to:

  • HMI control panel function and parts are inspected for function and accuracy
  • CO2 process lines and fittings are leak checked
  • CO2 pumps are inspected
  • Glycol-Water system is checked for leaks and glycol concentration is confirmed
  • Hydraulic System and lines are inspected, bearings are greased, and power unit settings are confirmed.
  • Includes all Pressure Relief Valves (PRV’s)
  • Consumables are reviewed and topped up if required

2. Cleaning

To ensure that the Vitalis equipment is operating at its maximum potential, the system will be fully disassembled and thoroughly cleaned inside and out. The cleaning program will include, but is not limited to:

  • Supercritical flush through both extraction vessels
  • Vent and purge all CO2 from the system
  • Cleaning of all pressure vessels
  • All process lines cleaned
  • The flow control valve is disassembled and cleaned
  • All glycol-water system filters removed and cleaned

3. Training

Finally, the Vitalis Service Technician will dedicate a portion of the site visit for retraining your equipment operators. This can cover a broad range of topics based on your needs and is fully customizable. Some suggestions for topics include:

  • Basic refresher of operation procedures
  • A review of safety practices when working with the Vitalis equipment
  • Equipment maintenance and cleaning schedule with associated procedures
  • Overview of extraction parameters and how to tune the system for specific outputs
  • HMI function and data logging
  • Advanced extraction tips using the Vitalis equipment
  • Custom lessons geared to specific areas of interest for the operation team

The Vitalis Care Program ensures that your Vitalis equipment is always performing at its best. Our knowledgeable Service Technicians will ensure that your staff are kept up to date with training and that you are getting the most from every extraction. This program makes certain that your Vitalis equipment gets the attention and care it deserves as a critical part of your manufacturing processes, offering optimal performance and optimal return.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, contact the Vitalis Service Department for more information and enrollment.

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GMP Overview Part 3: How To Get Ready For GMP

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Deciding to become GMP certified is a crucial first step, but before embarking on the journey it is imperative that a cannabis supplier or manufacturer is both prepared and understands what is required for GMP certification. Failure to plan properly and allocate the necessary resources can have a significant detrimental impact upon a business. Getting the GMP certification process right will save time, money, and resources, and can be highly advantageous for a company involved in the cannabis industry. Not only does it allow greater market access, but it also helps to reinforce the quality and reliability of the product being sold. Here are some important steps and considerations that companies should take into account as they get ready for GMP certification.

Getting a GMP specialist

When first considering whether to gain GMP certification, it is important to have an experienced specialist to assist you. This GMP specialist can be an internal or external resource and is essential to navigate the intricacies of GMP legislation and compliance. This person should have the skills to be able to conduct a gap analysis and report their findings. This process will identify the gaps between current processes and GMP requirements and provide recommendations to get the business ready for certification. It is far more efficient and effective to identify gaps early as implementing GMP retrospectively can incur significant costs. Knowing the cost and effort required to obtain GMP certification upfront allows for effective planning and minimizes the overall cost.

Risk Assessment

GMP covers all aspects of production from the raw materials, facilities and equipment, to the training and personal hygiene of staff. GMP requires that a business carry out a risk assessment of all their processes, identify areas that contain potential risks, and adopt strategies to minimize their occurrence. High risk areas identified from the gap analysis will require a larger qualification and validation effort than areas deemed to be lower risk. Typically identified high risk processes include manufacturing equipment, facilities, and personnel that work directly or closely with product. The areas of risk will differ between different manufacturers and suppliers, so it is important to understand all processes and the risks each pose.

Becoming GMP Certified

Gaining GMP certification requires a cannabis supplier or manufacturer to complete a GMP audit process. The auditors will be representatives from the regulatory authority for which the business wishes to gain certification, and the auditor’s agency will differ between jurisdictions. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) GMP inspection will be conducted by an auditor from the FDA. In the EU, while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will coordinate inspections, the inspection itself will be carried out by a national authority in one of the EU member states. Here in Canada, to gain EU GMP certification an auditor from an EU member state will complete the audit.
Following the inspection, an audit report is produced stating whether or not certification has been achieved and provides corrective actions to be taken where it has not.

Every effort is made to ensure auditors are consistent in their interpretation of regulations. Even so, the individual auditors’ readings and inferences are subjective – what one auditor might find acceptable another may not. It is important to note that such discrepancies are uncommon and where they occur, processes have been established for resolving any potential audit disputes.

Maintaining GMP Certification

Maintaining GMP certification is important in ensuring continued market access and product accreditation. This can be achieved through measures such as properly maintaining equipment and facilities, following standard operating procedures, and ensuring GMP documentation is in order and available to inspectors. GMP auditors can conduct both scheduled and surprise inspections to ensure manufacturers or suppliers remain compliant. Failure to comply with GMP regulations can result in severe penalties such as shutdown of manufacturing facilities, seizure or recall of product, and even criminal investigations and lawsuits, all depending on the level of non-compliance. While it is possible to re-gain GMP certification or to fix any non-compliance issues, depending on the financial implications of the penalties imposed, for smaller businesses it could lead to failure of the business.

As more businesses within the cannabis industry look to implement GMP, manufactures or suppliers that follow suit will not only increase their business opportunities, but will also develop a reputation of excellence in the quality of products they produce. The need for GMP certification will soon increase as it appears GMP will become the standard for medical cannabis products and potentially for recreational products as well. Understanding what is involved in the GMP process is essential for a company looking to become involved in this space.

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Vitalis Writer Publishes Third Article in 3 Part Series

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Vitalis writer Krista Kulczycki has just concluded her three-part series on the topic of yields.

The article, published Aug 22 on Cannabis Science & Technology, wraps up the set with a discussion on processing parameters, and how operating conditions, including extraction runtime and processing parameters, have a major influence on the yield obtained from an extraction. Access Part 3: Return Versus Effort and Associated Processing Parameters here.

Throughout the series, key concepts in extraction are examined. From pre-processing through to profitability, Krista goes into detail on the variables that can impact yields, providing a clear explanation on an industry topic that is often misunderstood.

To view the entire series, check out Part 1 and Part 2 on Cannabis Science & Technology, and look for more from Krista in the near future.

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Invest Kelowna Publication

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The Okanagan Offers FOMO

What is it like living and working in the Okanagan, the home of Vitalis Extraction Technology? Our own Director of Marketing, Shana Korotash, recently published a blog on that exact question, now available online at Invest Kelowna.

Raised in rural BC, and having career experience in both Toronto and Vancouver, Shana's thoughts on Okanagan living are insightful and speak to the amazing opportunities to be found.

From the article:

"The Okanagan offers the perfect balance of work/life integration. Before or after work you can squeeze in a quick paddleboard; no matter where you reside you’re no more than 20 minutes from a lake, with boating, wake surfing and several docks downtown to cruise up to and enjoy some of the best restaurants per capita in the country."

To read further, follow this link to Invest Kelowna.

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Extraction Fact vs. Extraction Fiction

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CLAIMS OF TIME & RECOVERY

Extraction as an industry is growing fast, and there are a number of companies vying for market share and consumer attention. In the CO2 space alone, there are dozens of companies supplying equipment to the industry. In this space, it's natural to see organizations trying a number of different tactics to get ahead.

Unfortunately, in the course of competitive business, statements can be made that are inaccurate and/or false. One typical myth that has had its time in the spotlight is the subject of yields. This topic can arise when people try to make simple comparisons between different types of equipment, and it is used as a measure of efficiency. However, as has been covered numerous times (check out this article), the subject of yields can be confusing and even misleading.

There have been numerous instances where the question "what is the yield on this machine?" is followed up with a simple numerical response like, "30%". Without even questioning the starting material going into the system, this can be misleading. If one were to use starting material that is 5% cannabinoids into a system, getting 30% yield would mean that most of the output would be non-cannabinoid material.

While the topic of yields and the confusion surrounding it has been discussed for years, a new subject of interest has come to light - percent extraction efficiency, also referred to as recovery percentage . The percent extraction efficiency is a number calculated by measuring the difference in cannabinoid mass between the feedstock and the post-extraction raffinate. As a simplistic example, if 100g of a specific compound existed in a specific volume of plant material, and the extraction output was measured to have 97g, the percent extraction efficiency would be 97%.

Unfortunately, while this topic has started to gain traction, so too have some of the myths surrounding the process. For example, some are reporting that they're hearing statements about the recovery percentage of a particular system within a specific period of time. For arguments sake, let's use the example of a 95% recovery in a run-time of 2 hours. These results are fantastic, but are they even possible? Keep reading to find out.

THE SCIENCE OF EXTRACTION

CO2 extraction is a process that has as part of its foundation a few key scientific principles. The key factors in an extraction are temperature, pressure, time, and flowrate. Under a set of parameters (temperature and pressure) during a run of a specific duration (time) and based on the overall volume of solvent passing through the substrate (flowrate), an extraction will produce a quantity of crude oil.

For different compounds within the biomass, different temperature and pressure settings can increase or decrease their solubility within the solvent. As well, the more time the extraction is given to run, the more of that particular compound can be extracted (this article talks about the "declining curve" of recovery that is typically noticed). Finally, the amount of solvent that is flowing through the chamber can also increase the overall efficiency of the extraction.

None of these factors are magical. Rather, they are scientific principles upon which extraction is based. The end result of the extraction is similarly based on the science. Given a specific set of parameters, the laws of physics, the phenomenon of mass transfer and solubility, an extraction occurs.

THE EXTRACTION CURVE

This image represents the extraction curve, or better put, gives a graphical look at the amount of cannabinoids that can be pulled from the plant material over time. The familiar "declining curve" shows that in the first part of the extraction, the majority of cannabinoids are recovered. As the solvent continues to penetrate the biomass, components that are further from the surface of the material take longer to recover. Over the course of the run, the remaining desirables are pulled.

Given the laws of physics and the physical properties of solvent and biomass, this shows what happens when appropriate temperature and pressure parameters are set when targeting cannabinoids. These parameters are chosen as they are the most favorable for extraction of target compounds with as little co-extraction of non-desirable components like fats and waxes.

THE UN-TRUTH

Technically, 95% recovery in 2 hours is possible. This can be accomplished by drastically increasing temperature and pressure settings during the extraction. Unfortunately, the by-product of such a process is the complete extraction of both desirable and undesirable compounds. This leads to a situation where post-processing requires greater amounts of time, energy, equipment and resources. In this case, maintaining these numbers indefinitely is neither profitable nor sustainable.

When evaluating claims that are made across the industry, it is wise to get the actual details behind the statement. If a claim like our example is heard, then the discussion should focus on the how - how is it possible to reach those numbers, and what are the downsides that also result? Similarly, hearing wild claims about the yield of a particular extraction system should be met with queries regarding the biomass. What are the percentages of desirable compounds in that plant material, and how does that compare to the claim (remember, 30% yield from a 20% feedstock is nothing short of magical)?

As the industry gains momentum, we can anticipate more outrageous and fantastic claims. As in most situations, regardless of industry or transaction, critical thinking pays off. Like the saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” While some “claims” can technically be true, the realities may not be close to the desired outcome. Educate yourself, purchase wisely.

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