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Man Vs. Machine – A quantitative comparison of cannabis trimming solutions

Many people would say that the most labor intensive step in the production of cannabis is the harvest and all would agree that its the most tedious. With the rise in popularity of trimming machine in the market there has been a large interest from consumers to see quantitative numbers on trimming times and weights. Unfortunately, this interest has often been answered by misinformed and misspelled forum posts by those with little experience with trimming machines.

Our research has indicated that it takes an experienced trimmer 5.5 hours to trim 1lbs of cured product. From this data we assume that a trimmer could trim roughly 1.5 lbs in an 8 hour workday. Our CenturionPro Mini Trimming machine (for example) can process up 24-30 lbs of wet product in an hour, assuming you have your material prepped and ready to feed into the machine. Hand trimming rates for two people in an eight-hour day. The same two-person crew could spend their time prepping plants and then trimming at the end of the day and process roughly 600% more.

Trimming machines are ready to go at the push of a button which means no more motivating crews of people to get started in the morning with coffee and donuts. Along those same lines machines don’t need food or long lunch breaks, as long as you can buck the stalks fast enough the machine will continue to process at a steady rate for up to 4 hours. After 4 hours of unit run time it’s suggested that the machine be disconnected from power and lightly cleaned before restarting operation.

Using a trimming machine allows you to free up resources in your operation and allows you to do more with less. Only one person is required to run the machine while others can focus on bucking the stalks and moving product to drying racks or storage. Any other employees who would have normally been dedicated to trimming during this time can now focus on other tasks.

As the cannabis industry evolves producers will have to become more competitive and lowering the overhead associated with trimming is an easy way to add more profit into your pocket. The cost of a one day rental is a fraction of what you would spend hiring a crew to trim your product. Rounding up a crew to process your bumper crop will no longer be an issue. No more no-shows and flaky people to deal with. Trimming machines are easily portable and break down for cleaning in just a few seconds. Plus, almost the entire machine can be pressure washed for easy cleanup.

In an industry where security is pertinent not only to reputation but also mitigating risk, trimming machines run by small trustworthy crews are a smart alternative to large trimming parties. Unfortunately, “loose lips sink ships” and with each crew new member brought aboard for a harvest the opportunity for risk increases. As the industry matures regulations on producers will call for higher security which increases costs with each new employee hired. Remember, trimming machines don’t talk or have ulterior motives.

We all know hand trimming can have varied results from person to person, but a machine produces a consistent product every time. Machine trimmed product is very uniform and most machines can be adjusted to deliver the level of trim you desire. Trimming machines also excel at trimming smaller flowers clusters that would often be ignored by hand trimmers. With a well maintained trimming machine the quality of your final trimmed product will look the same batch after batch. The same can’t always be said about human trimmers who can get tired and sloppy after a day of trimming, which leads to inconsistent results. Instead of relying on other people to share the same level of pride that you have in your product you can use a trimming machine to deliver beautiful results time and time again.

As your seed to shelf life-cycle continuously improves your harvest methods should too; don’t let epic strains and huge colas be your only focus. Supplementing your harvest with a trimming machine yields instant ROI in time savings. Trimming machines are easily scalable, unlike trimming crews. Adding another trimming machine to your fleet is as simple as renting or buying another unit. Hiring new members for your trimming takes time and energy you could be spending elsewhere. For comparison adding another machine is the equivalent of adding 25 people to the operation.
Trimming machines can also be paired with other accessories to make trimming even more efficient.

People often ask about the final quality of machine trimmed product and how it compares to hand trimmed product. The current generation of trimming machines provides close to hand-trimmed quality at a much faster pace than a person can. Trimming machines do not damage trichomes anymore than a hand trimmer would.

By using trimming machines with a non-stick tumbler, such as our unique Quantanium tumbler drum, it allows movement and cutting of the product with minimal human handling. The compact non-stick barrel gently tumbles the product, keeping those valuable trichomes right where you want them on your flowers, Machine trimmed marijuana that has been completely cured is almost indistinguishable from hand trimmed marijuana. We’ve seen no difference between machine trimmed sugar leaves and hand trimmed sugar leaves. The trimmed sugar leaves can be still be used for post production of concentrates and oils using whatever method you choose.

We hope this article serves as a useful tool for growers in the market for a better harvest solution :slight_smile:

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Great article! It is true that getting a group of qualified and reputable trimmers to get the work done every time is always difficult and never ideal…

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Exactly! Sometimes you luck out, or you have already cultivated a good group, but for growers who are starting out it definitely has its issues.

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Very nice article…and makes complete economic sense. I am not a grower so I am not too well versed of the pro/con list for human trimming vs machine. You mention the “human factor” of the trimming process (quality, consistency of product, security, volume), do you target more large scale operations? I imagine those facilities that seem to be in an eternal state of harvest would benefit greatly.

Also, for smaller operations…how long before the ROI is justified? Obviously this machine would be a “one-off” in the books, but would that effect smaller growers who need that capitol for operations? I assume the machine would pay for itself within a few harvests, depending on volume. Do you have a car dealership business model, i.e. have New model machines, previously owned, rent or lease options, etc? Essentially pricing options for every stage of grower?

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Great questions here! We have options for both home-grow operations as well as for commercial operations within our product line.

Our smallest machine, the Tabletop Pro, is 35lbs designed to suite space-pressed individuals and replaces up to 6 human trimmers. This machine has a production capacity of up 20lbs wet (4-5lbs dry) per hour. On the opposite end of the spectrum is our Gladiator machine, which contains two side-by-side tumblers and is designed to replace up to 40 individuals with production capacity of up to 160lbs of wet product per hour (32lbs dry). We also have two mid-side options available for those who are past the home grow operation size, but not quite at a commercial capacity.

In terms of ROI, our machines will pay for themselves within a few batches and sometimes within the first week, depending on what size of machine you choose, how many people you are replacing, etc. We agree that smaller or start-up operations do need that capital for other areas of their operation, which is why we have a lot of options to suite individual needs. We not only offer brand new machines, but we also have rentals and re-furbished options and we do offer free financing (subject to credit approval) as well.

I hope that helps :slight_smile:

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Thank you! That answered all my questions

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Machines like these decrease end flower quality by about 10% over all, which is not noticeable to most customers, however there is another trade off if you make extract. The trim quality and popcorn quality is reduced by approximately 30% from machines like these, leaving low yielding distillate as the only option for bi-product processing. The additional value add from hand trimming is the visual inspection component, Humans can inspect each flower for mature and premature seeds, imbedded yellow or dead leaf and mold that could potentially harm the end consumer. If you choose to machine trim fresh cannabis, the drying becomes cumbersome and takes much care and contact which further degrades flower quality and enhances chances for contamination from mold. Its a choice, if your growing commercial b grade product for cheap sale, plan to use a mold eradication device, and are not in the extract market, trimming machines make a good option.

Based on your post, have you tried trimming machines yourself and gotten a bad experience, or is this based on what you have read/heard about these machines? Unfortunately, there were a lot of poor quality machines produced in the beginning as the demand for automated trimming started to grow and it has turned a lot of people off of using trimming machines.

While poorly designed machines with low-quality components can damage your plants, our non-stick Quantanium coated tumblers actually provide 40% greater trichome preservation than the competitor. We don’t use any spray either, which is often what leads to destruction of the keif. Plus, our double bag collection system allows you to collect the trim and separates the keif keeping it 100% pure and usable for further processing.

While a visual inspection is always an additional method to ensure quality product, our machines do the job all on their own. Our machines also trim dry or wet, depending on which tumbler you use, so you can continue processing in the same manner you normally would - the only difference being that our trimmers save you the time and hassle of hand-trimming but still prove to produce a great quality product.

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Don’t mean to chime in on Centurion’s post, but…

We would have to agree with CenturionPro, as they mentioned in the above response. We have third-party independent testing that shows comparable results to hand-trimming, and better results in some categories (https://www.greenbroz.com/test-results/).

If you have lab-tested results showing otherwise, we would love to see them to see how our results differ.

And you’re also mistaken when it comes to drying cannabis. According to Dr. Jade Stefano, who is a master of plant science and cultivation, wet trimming causes the most chances for negative impacts to your plants (https://www.facebook.com/GreenBroz/videos/1453841914712254/).

Again, sorry to chime in on your feed Centurion, just wanted to provide some outside information (hosted on our sites, but created by people outside our company) to inform Dustin on facts from other, accredited sources.

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No problem! Accurate information is good for everyone :slight_smile:

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While I am unaware of Dr. Stephano’s actual experience with the different methods of trimming and drying cannabis, my above statement is aligned with her in the aspect of machine trimming wet cannabis which leads to less than optimal drying methodologies that often result in batch contamination.

Third party lab results are great, but they are easily manipulated when they are not the result of a real double blind study. I happen to own a green bros trimmer and the main problem with it is it destroys the trim and small flower, therefore we do not use it as it results in a decreased yield in overall cannabinoids for our lab products. For a fee, I would be happy to do a multiple test and strain study in our in house lab and post the results here.

To each their own I guess…that feedback on our machine is contrary to countless other experts in the industry, which makes me think there is something less than optimal in your process when using our machine.

The Clinic is just one example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVZQhltliH0). They’ve won dozens of cannabis cups with their flower and extracts, and use the trim created from our machine to do so. This is unpaid feedback.

We would love a chance to come out to your farm and consult on the proper use of our machine, as ‘destruction’ of trim would be an outlier to our reputation and should be easily remedied.

And just to note, the lab results come from some of the most respected labs in the country, some of whom have government contracts for testing. Due to their qualifications and reputation, we will continue to take their results as true findings. If you look closely at them, they seem to present a pretty unbiased report, as there are both negatives and positive results listed.

Sure, we are happy to have you guys out for a lesson.

As I stated in my first comment, the only high quality lab product that could be made from the trim in the video is distillate… which is only one of the products we make. The cannabinoids become much harder to harvest when they are in a pile of dust.

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Sorry for any confusion on my part, I joined the thread late and there was a lot to get caught up on! I’ll DM you for contact info and see if we can get something set up for you!