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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS

A growth industry: Automation in the burgeoning cannabis market With federal descheduling of hemp and only 15 states left in the U.S. where psychoactive marijuana is still fully illegal, the manufacture and sale of cannabis-derived products have skyrocketed. Automation is driving much of the industry’s productivity.

BY LISA EITEL • MOTION EDITOR

T

aboos against cannabis continue to go up in smoke, which has meant the rapid ascent of an entirely new industry. It’s also meant proliferation of new automated systems and machine designs for all stages of cannabis production — including growing, harvesting, processing, testing, packaging, and distributing of marijuana and hemp-based goods to satisfy demand. Before we detail these technologies, it might be helpful to review some basics about the plant itself. You see, cannabis includes the two subspecies of indica and sativa; psychoactive marijuana strains come from both subspecies, while all hemp strains — incredibly useful in their own right — come from the latter. Hemp is hemp and not classified as a marijuana strain when it’s less than 0.3% of the intoxicant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight, a distinction considered arbitrary by some. Marijuana has THC concentrations of 15% to 40% in most cases. Despite their various applications, all of these plants were (until recently) illegal to grow or transport. Many states have since passed laws on permitting marijuana … and with the January 2019 U.S. Farm Bill now law, hemp is no longer listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic at all … “and will reinsert itself as one of the most useful plant species on earth,” said Ag t3 Holdings president and CEO Ed Horton.

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DESIGN WORLD — MOTION

00 Automation in Cannabis — Motion Control Trends V4 03.19.indd 4

3 • 2019

Shown here is an automated AEtrium System from AEssenseGrows. Sensor feedback informs software routines that automate all climate and plant-feeding functions. Another AEssenseGrows product is the Guardian Grow Manager — an IIoT tool that lets growhouse managers remotely monitor and adjust their operations from a laptop or mobile device.

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3/11/19 2:50 PM

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Motion System Trends 2019  

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