HOW TO CHOOSE THE
BEST AUTOMATED TRIMMING MACHINE
Whether you have a large cannabis facility or a craft indoor grow, there’s a cannabis trimmer out there that’s a perfect fit. But how do you determine which will be the best one? That’s why we created a point by point guide of exactly what you should be looking for.
IGNORE THE CANNABIS TRIMMER VANITY METRICS.
WHAT KPIS MATTER FOR TRIMMER PERFORMANCE:
Always consider the staffing requirements for a trimmer, particularly in a large-scale, commercial facility.
The leaves that are cut from the flower still retain value for use in extracts, but only if the quality is preserved. If the leaves hit an impeller then they’ll be reduced to mush, and not useful for anything. Some trimmers offer a separate unit that be attached to prevent leaves from hitting the impeller, but in that case, you now have 2 units to clean rather than 1.
TIME TO CLEAN
It’s usually overlooked as a measure of performance but should ALWAYS be considered. Time to clean is downtime, but you’re still burning labor hours. Who cares if you’ve got a trimmer that is super-fast but then takes 2 days and a team of 6 to clean?
Most cannabis trimmers measure output, but there are so many variables (wet or dry, desired trim closeness, if it’s being used for extracts, when the product is being weighed, is the trim as well as final product being weight, etc) that measuring and comparing output isn’t useful or accurate. The only true speed measurement that can be comparable between trimmers is FEED RATE. IE how fast product can actually be fed into the machine. (Get more detail in this blog post about how to measure cannabis trimming performance.)
WHAT KPIS DO NOT MATTER FOR TRIMMER PERFORMANCE:
Cuts Per Minute
This is a useless measurement invented by marketers. When you hear the term “cuts per minute” that doesn’t actually refer to the number of times a blade contacts a flower. It’s just a measure of how many times two cutting edges make contact with each other. Multiply that by how many openings are in a sheet metal tumbler, then again multiple by 60 to get cuts per minute. Having your blades spin faster would increase your “cuts per minute” by not have any impact on performance. It’s a big number that sounds impressive, but that’s it.
Cutting Reel Size
Despite claims to the contrary, tests prove that the size of the cutting real makes no difference to the performance of an automated cannabis trimming machine.
If the cutting surface that touches the product remains the same, increasing the tumbler size doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. It’s like saying a knife cuts better because it’s handle is 3 times the size.
CANNABIS FACILITY SIZE
Automated cannabis trimmer manufacturers get asked often for quotes based on the size of a facility. That’s actually not all that relevant. The days of a cannabis cultivation facility only harvesting every 8-10 weeks are long gone. Most larger commercial facilities are harvesting much more often than that, some of them using a “perpetual harvest” methodology, which means using your facility size as a criteria to determine which automated cannabis trimmer you need isn’t useful. What is much more important to choosing the right automated cannabis trimmer is harvest size and harvest frequency…
CANNABIS HARVEST SIZE AND HARVEST FREQUENCY
Think about it like this: there are two 100,000 sq ft facilities. One has a massive takedown of 50,000 sq ft of canopy every 8 weeks. The other has much smaller takedowns of 1500 sq ft of canopy every other day (this would be a perpetual harvest model). Even though they are in the same-sized facility, the first facility would need a lot more trimming bandwidth (more machines) than the second facility.
TRIMMING WET OR DRY
Most automated cannabis trimmers are designed to trim either wet or dry. Batch-style trimmers like Greenbroz are typically designed for dry, while traditional continuous-feed trimmers like Shearline are designed for wet. Some continuous-feed trimmers can be adapted for dry trimming with additional components. However, there is only one trimmer currently on the market that can trim wet or dry with no additional components or modifications: The Mobius Trimmer. That means that knowing your preferred harvesting process before choosing an automated cannabis trimmer is critical, and you’re locked in once you’ve made your choice (unless, of course, you opt for a Mobius).
ABILITY TO CLEAN EASILY
If you’ve worked with cannabis trimmers before you know that cleaning can be a serious headache, as well as a massive drain on time and resources. Knowing how complicated and time-consuming an automated trimmer is to clean is important and should weigh heavily on your decision. Assembly and disassembly will need to be done every time you clean, so be sure to ask manufacturers how long the disassembly and assembly takes if you can’t get a clear answer specifically on cleaning time. Also make sure to ask which parts can be washed with a power washer, and which parts can’t. A heated power washer will speed things up substantially.
COST OF REPLACEMENT PARTS
SUPPORT AND KNOWLEDGE BASE