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Last updated: October 05, 2020

As the demand for legal cannabis increases in the United States, so does the need for more efficient commercial cannabis grow rooms to keep up with the rapid development. Various state regulators and the Cannabis Control Commission consistently look for ways that marijuana grow rooms can reduce energy waste. Commercial cannabis growers in some states are required to submit energy usage reports to comply with their state’s standards.

So, who will be successful in the future? The companies that apply a comprehensive approach to their commercial cannabis grow room operations, from layout to technology to lighting.

How can this holistic method be implemented? Enter movable light systems to the scene. Movable light systems are automated lights that allow growers to set controls on the distance between grow lights and cannabis plants. This allows the most amount of light to be used for cannabis growth.

In this article, we will discuss:

What are commercial cannabis grow rooms?

Commercial cannabis grow rooms are large spaces within warehouses where cannabis is planted, grown, and cultivated in mass quantities for profit-making. Dispensaries either own the grow room or they buy from the manufacturers who own it. The grow room area is typically closed off and secured from any outdoor interference, except for ventilation in certain areas.marijuana grow room

How can I increase the ROI for my cannabis grow room?

The keys to protecting and increasing ROI for cannabis grow rooms are to keep labor expenses and electricity costs low by implementing efficient processes. Movable light systems can seamlessly integrate with your current operations while alleviating certain pain points. Moving grow lights not only eliminate routine work but also significantly reduce energy expenses.

Below are the four different ways movable light systems increase ROI:

1. Lowers labor costs

Productive plant growth and energy efficiency are dependent on the way grow lights are placed. For this reason, most indoor marijuana cultivators count on human labor to adjust their grow lights.

With the use of human labor, employees climb on ladders to move each light, which requires a lot of strenuous activity and time. For example, let’s look at a 100-light grow room that requires lights to be adjusted every four days during a 30-day growth period. If each light takes five minutes to move, then that amounts to 500 minutes every four days.

A typical harvest lasts 7.5 days. If you multiply that number by 500, then you are using up to 62.5 hours per harvest and spending $937.50 in labor expenses. Most indoor cannabis cultivation companies have five harvests a year, so multiply $937.50 by five and that equals  $4,687.50  in annual labor costs.

Movable lights replace the need for costly manual labor by automating the entire process. The system continually adjusts lights to achieve maximum cannabis growth and create a consistent product while speeding up the process.

2. Decreases electricity costs

movable grow lightingElectricity is one of the largest operating expenses for commercial marijuana growers. Commercial cannabis grow rooms are projected to make up 1% of electricity usage in the United States*. On average, companies spend roughly $150 per pound of cannabis on electricity.

Suitable plant spacing is essential to keeping electricity costs down and operational efficiency up. The businesses that take active measures to keep these two factors in mind will have long-term success.

The traditional lighting method for most growers is cross illumination, where rows of lights are placed above plants to even out the amount of lighting that each plant receives. Lights must be evenly spaced apart from each other as well as above the canopy to avoid wasting electricity.

With movable light systems, growers can control light positioning more accurately and efficiently. By eliminating the possibility of human error and manual labor, movable light systems help growers spend less on electricity.

3. Reduces workman’s comp expenses

Compared to other verticals in the agriculture industry, cannabis growers have one of the highest workman’s comp insurance premiums. The factors that are taken into consideration for this high expense include soft tissue claims, ergonomic situations, and daily tasks that are performed in potentially dangerous situations, such as completing chores above the ground level.

Workman’s comp is also the highest overhead expenditure because it’s based on a company’s payroll amount. For example, if a cannabis grow room has $100,000 on the payroll, the annual workman’s comp expenses will be between $8,000 and $9,000.

Since movable grow lights take away the need for human labor by automating everyday tasks, workman’s comp expenses are reduced and labor ROI increases through lowered insurance premium expenses. Workplace injuries and the need for workman’s comp claims are also greatly reduced with the implementation of these automated machines. 

4. Eliminates the need for OSHA ladder training

Commercial cannabis growers who use traditional grow light methods are subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s guidelines for ladder training. This is due to the nature of the work that involves employees moving growing lights on ladders.

Workers typically need to re-take OSHA ladder training every 12 months, and the cost of the class is $79 per employee*. Topics covered in the training include:

  • Electrical hazards
  • Proper ladder positioning
  • Ladder stability
  • Maximum weight loads
  • Fall and impact guidelines

In training, employees learn that they must maintain three points of contact with the ladder at any given time. This is difficult to do for cannabis growers as workers can’t hang plants with one hand.

With movable grow lights, employees don’t have to use ladders to move lights or drying racks. This technology allows employees to remain protected from the dangers that come along with ladder work and eliminates the need for expensive OSHA training.

What are the additional benefits and features of movable light systems?

In addition to ROI increase, movable lights provide other benefits as well as notable features:

  • commercial cannabis grow roomTracking on the lights allows growers to get quicker and regular harvest rates
  • One technician can control 72 or more lights at once with the single-button control system
  • The system always knows its location in the grow room
  • Easily integrates with new and old operations as well as enterprise resource planning systems
  • Seven safety features allow for highly secured operations

What are the advanced safety features of the movable light system?

The movable light system is built to last and guaranteed to pass any safety test with regulators. Below are the seven safety features for the movable light system: 

  • Lifting cables: Rated to 2,000 pounds and composed of durable aircraft-grade steel with a melting point that exceeds 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Safety cables: Support lifting cables and are ¼” aluminum wire rated to 2,000 pounds
  • Momentary switches: Fastens system in place via operator switch
  • Upper limit switches: Help the machine not overwind and cause damage
  • Payload capacity: Holds an active load of 800 pounds for every eight feet and no more than 72 feet for each machine
  • Electric motor brake: Automatically fastens cargo in any position when the power turns off
  • Free-fall arrestor: Pauses the load in inches if the chain drive and motor break down

Additional solutions for commercial cannabis grow rooms

In addition to the movable light system, there are four other solutions available to help increase commercial cannabis grow room efficiency:

Storage options

To make the most out of your non-grow space, there are storage options that can help you reduce costs, save space, and improve production efficiency. These include:

Vertical growing systems

Vertical growing systems provide a wide variety of benefits for commercial cannabis grow rooms, including: 

  • Saves space
  • Reductions in energy costs
  • Boosts production
  • Efficiency increases

Overhead and undercarriage machines     

cannabis grow lightsOverhead machines maximize productivity for single-tier growers by covering over 3,000 feet of canopy space with a single machine. Custom design options are available for any size room.     

As a smaller version of the overhead machine, undercarriage machines are used by multi-tier growers to move lights and air over the canopy.

Contact us to increase your cannabis grow room efficiency

Southwest Solutions Group® provides efficient solutions for commercial cannabis grow rooms. Whether it’s movable light systems, storage options, vertical growing systems, overhead machines or undercarriage machines you need, our experienced specialists will work closely with you to understand your exact needs. Call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message and a professional representative will contact you.   

Resources

*Facts and figures are based on 2020 data.

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