When legislation in countries such as the USA and Canada started to de-criminalise the use of cannabis for either medical and / or recreational purposes, CME quickly identified the potential for automation within this rapidly developing market.
Legalising the sale of cannabis presented large scale growers and manufacturers with the need to process on an industrial scale and with opportunities to market the product in different formats, such as pre-rolled and packaged joints. This is where CME has been instrumental in developing and taking to market automation solutions to produce these delicate, difficult to handle products with consistency and in volume.
The first of these machines to be designed and manufactured was CME’s AutoCone which is used to produce Cannabis joints up to 30 items per minute. The system also achieves industry and application specific tolerances across a wide range of product weights and cannabis strains, each of which has its own unique characteristics.
(CME’s AutoCone machines have successfully automated the production of pre-rolled joints)
Transforming the Manufacturing of Pre Rolled Cannabis Joints
The design and development of the AutoCone system was the result of a detailed application review where CME identified solutions for automating a number of the operations performed at different stages during the manufacturing process pre rolled joints. Ian Marks explains “As the first of their kind these machines required a detailed investigation into the existing production steps to allow us to develop a number of automated processes which would be reliable and consistent in operation. One example is the product sealing operation, where multiple servo motors are used to replicate the dexterity of the previously manual “twisting” operation.”
(Multiple servo-motors are used to replicate the original manual twisting / sealing operation)
Customisable Options and Technology Innovation
There are also a number of options available for the AutoCone system which are designed to suit specific consumer preferences. These include the ability to trim the twisted end or re-form it to produce a flat dutch folded end. With multiple AutoCone units now in the field and in production, CME’s legal cannabis sector technology innovation continues with solutions targeted at a number of both upstream and downstream operations.
For lower volume manufacturers, CME’s AutoTwist Pre-Roll Finishing system offers an automated operated bench top system to twist and finish hand-filled or vibration table filled Pre-Rolls.
(CME’s AutoTwist Pre Roll Finishing system)
CME has also developed a Robotic Pre-Roll Packing system which can be used for either Kush Tubes or Tray formats. Designed to handle multiple picks and sizes, at rates of up to 60 picks per minute, this robot based solution ensures flexibility of use across multiple cone weights. Quick adjustment features also make it possible to change between packaging formats and quantities per pack.
(CME’s Robotic packaging system can be linked directly to the AutoCone system)
Automation Solutions for the Legal Cannabis Sector
As is already common-place for CME’s automation solutions in other sectors, the company is now working towards a complete production solution for the Legal Cannabis sector. This will incorporate upstream processes such as the manufacture of Cones from reel stock material, which will then be transferred automatically to the AutoCone System, and from there through the Robotic Packaging System and on to case packing systems. CME will also integrate additional technologies such as X-Ray Inspection, Marking and Labelling to meet specific customer and regional requirements.
Ian Marks concludes: “With the resounding success of the AutoCone system and our additional innovations now market ready, CME is positioned to deliver a comprehensive range of robust and high performance automation solutions to this growing market sector.”
CME Limited currently employs 120 people and is active across a number of sectors including: Tobacco, Legal Cannabis, Pharmaceutical, Medical & Life-Sciences and Food Beverage & Confectionery. The company supports a wide range of customers in more than 130 countries ranging from multi-nationals to independent family owned businesses.