April 11, 2022

by Sage Vasquez

when is the right time to invest
in pre-roll automation?

Blackbird Automated Pre-Roll Machine

Pre-roll automation has gained some traction within the past few years, becoming one of the most popular technologies adopted by the cannabis industry. Automated rolling and filling pre-roll machines are already positioned to be on the production floor of every major roll manufacturer. And, while many accept that pre-roll automation is a necessity, there is still much uncertainty about when it should be employed. 

first, let’s dive into what pre-roll automation can be used for. 

No matter how well-trained and careful employees are, human error remains a factor. Pre-rolling cannabis swiftly yet safely is a complicated task, which must be performed with great care. Systems can automate repetitive pre-roll tasks, such as grinding, rolling, weighing or filling pre-rolls. In principle, these machines can address any pre-roll task that does not require constant human intervention or complex decision making. When monotonous, manual pre-roll work is redirected to an automated machine:

  • Processes become more efficient and standardized
  • Employee productivity increases
  • Errors decrease
  • Over time, the process becomes more cost-effective
  • Operations become more measurable and transparent

Pre-roll automation can be a major investment. While in the long run it's commonly a more economically viable option, it still takes time to report a return on investment. The difference in pre-roll automation prices varies–typically, the higher priced machines use superior grade components, have a higher output, address specific quality issues or use the latest industry innovation. The finest pre-roll machines will help increase production, allowing your business to grow and sustain. 

automated pre-roll machines are an important investment for:

  • Smaller cannabis production facilities looking to produce a few hundred pre-rolls a week
  • Retail and cannabis dispensaries wanting to produce their own pre-rolls, in-house
  • Large cannabis production facilities wishing to create boutique-run pre-rolls

Each Blackbird is hand-crafted and machine-tooled to meet the demands of  purveyors and cultivators

so, when is the right time to invest in pre-roll automation? While there is no perfect set time to include automation within your pre-roll business, if you are experiencing any of the following issues, automation might be in your near future:

Current systems need improvement. If your current business process needs improvement or systems have failed and need upgrading, now may be the perfect time to invest in automation. Upgrading your systems and ultimately having the ability to do more with fewer resources will allow you to save on costs and increase production.

Lack of labor and/or space. Taking on innovative approaches to pre-roll automation, businesses can build capability and scale. In case you are facing staff shortages and are ‌minimizing losses by reducing employees, opting for automation could maximize spending. Overall, it should keep the costs controlled and boost pre-roll productivity.

Automated pre-roll machines also increase the efficiency and consistency of pre-rolled joints that staff cannot. These systems can perform the work of multiple people, streamline processes within one appliance, produce less material waste and reduce overhead costs.

Another significant benefit of employing automation is their ability to work within confined spaces—ensuring valuable floor space isn’t wasted. That means production can continue regardless of labor and space shortages.

Offering a new pre-roll product or service. If you are introducing a new pre-roll product or service, adopting automated processes at the beginning support new lines of development which ensure quality, end-to-end traceability, and error mitigation.

Federal and State governments could introduce new cannabis related requirements associated with environmental impact, worker safety, seed-to-sale tracking, and transparency of business practices, and automated systems will be a valuable tool for compliance for any new pre-roll product or service.

Experiencing quality issues. If you are struggling with quality control issues, it might be time to consider automating some processes which ensure consistent quality. Automated systems create fewer touch-points or opportunities for contamination as well.

Have the mindset to include innovation in your pre-roll business model. While running a company, it might feel intimidating to stop and introduce an automated tool into your business process. However, in order to be future-ready and continue to be relevant, businesses certainly need to adapt to newer forms of operations. The success or failure of pre-roll businesses will depend on a company’s willingness and ability to use technologies.

The cannabis industry is hitting its stride at a time of runaway technological acceleration. In the current climate, innovation is survival. Embracing automation allows early adopters an advanced familiarity with options, more time to analyze trends or issues, and set up an infrastructure capable of adding or upgrading additional automated systems in the future.

Late adoption likely means playing catch-up indefinitely, with competitors who are already steps ahead. Investment in pre-roll automation by medium and large-sized cannabis retailers continues to prove itself successful, both in terms of productivity and financials. It has excelled in improving operational efficiency, delivering higher quality products, and offering manufacturers competitive differentiators with business agility. Automation is likely to remain a core technology for cannabis, and those who don’t embrace it will be left behind.

Keep in mind, many cannabis dispensaries and retailer pre-roll products fall short of delivering an enjoyable joint smoking experience. Harshness, uneven burning, and finding a joint impossible to ignite are typical grievances. Many inferior quality pre-rolls are produced with automated cone-filling technology. Make sure you research the latest innovations in pre-roll automation, like our Blackbird Rolling System.