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How Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Grew Into The Horticulture Industry

 
 

Written by Karen Lloyd, Maximum Yield

Pipp Mobile Storage Systems thought it would breeze into the cannabis space, take direction from growers, and roll with flow. But that wasn’t exactly the case for North America’s largest provider of mobile shelving and storage solutions. In 2017, vertical farming hadn’t yet been dialed into perfection and Pipp realized, rather quickly, the legal cannabis industry was new territory for everyone.

“Our customers were looking to us to help guide the process, determine proper work-flow, spacing, elevation, plant density, and other key elements that are affected by or attached to our racking systems,” says Pipp’s sales management team.

Pipp entered the horticulture space with nearly 40 years of experience in the retail industry. As a business that has traditionally selected a single market to serve and lead, the team says Pipp hit the jackpot with the horticulture industry. The Walker, Michigan-based company didn’t wait long to get schooled in the world of growing. Pipp attended seminars, acquainted itself with appropriate suppliers, dropped into trade shows, hired experienced growers, and developed a green thumb of its own.

“The horticulture space demands focused attention to detail, deep analysis, continual improvement, innovation, corporate strength and staying power,” says the team. “These requirements speak directly to the attributes that embody Pipp Mobile Storage Systems, Inc., and now Pipp Horticulture.”

Pipp’s mobile vertical grow racks and Greenhaus grow tray systems allow cultivators to increase production by maximizing their cubic canopy footprint without increasing the square footprint of the growing room or building. Designed to meet the requirements of each and every specific customer and project, racks can be built up to 56 feet long and 23 feet high.

Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks - Vertical Farming

Pipp’s vertical grow racks also incorporate:

• Mobile carriages

• A drive system

• Vertical rack structures

• Integrated grow trays

• Airflow components

• Anchorage

• Anti-tip features

• Catwalk platforms

• Ladders

Pipp Horticulture is on a neverending mission of continual product improvement and advancement and has been awarded several U.S. patents for its technological innovations.

A Vision for Vertical Farming

Advancements in technologies will continue to push the horticultural industry forward and further expand its reach. The future is bright for growers and Pipp sees tremendous growth ahead rooted in what indoor cultivation will mean to families, cities, and the world. Vertical farming maximizes production, reduces operating costs, and increases overall revenue per square foot by as much as three times.

“People will be accessing and consuming fresher and healthier foods, while new employment opportunities will present in major cities previously unable to cultivate locally,” says Pipp’s sales team. “The possibilities are limitless, and we are humbled to have a place in it all.”

When it comes to vertical farming there have always been two primary dilemmas: rails on the floor and servicing upper levels. To address these high-demand concerns, Pipp designed a new TRAK-FREE Carriage System as well as a mobile elevated platform. “We see horticulture, indoor cultivation and processing, specifically, as the future for our organization and we are committed to hitting the ball out of the park for our customers, suppliers, employees and all who we serve.”

Pipp’s TRAK-FREE Carriage System leaves a smooth surface with no bumps or barriers to maneuver over between racking rows while the company’s ELEVATE Platform System enables cultivators to walk freely along upper grow levels without being hindered by rolling ladders or scaffolding. All Pipp rails are thoughtfully designed and meet ADA compliance standards.

The sales management team says the company won’t release a product or product feature without an extensive factory and client beta site testing. Although Pipp’s entry point into the horticultural industry was through the cannabis market, the company didn’t want to limit Pipp Horticulture to any specific cultivation or plant processing category. Instead, the company looks forward to building and developing solutions for all growers.

Green By Nature

The cubic space utilization of Pipp mobile systems is, by nature, a greenfriendly phenomena. Less space, electricity, lighting, water, gas and other critical resources are needed due to the efficient use of space. “Pipp is committed to being a green friendly supplier in the horticulture space,” says the sales team. The company’s recycled content for steel and aluminum products is an industryleading 66 percent while the majority of its packaging materials come from recycled materials.

Additionally, Pipp Horticulture offers LEED certification assistance to each and every customer. With hundreds of projects on the go and completed installations under its belt, Pipp’s knowledge base only continues to grow. The company’s in-house team now includes professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced operators to provide partners with outstanding support before and after installation. “This is not a micromanaging culture, but rather a highly committed team that respects one another and understands that our individual performances affect and benefit the group, including our customers, as a whole,” says the sales team. “We are dealing with and affecting a living product that moves to its own schedule, not ours. Because of this, our performance is essential, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Stay tuned as Pipp Horticulture continues to enhance its current offering and create new products to improve plant health, operational efficiencies, and environmental benefits for cultivation facilities worldwide.

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Pipp Horticulture Introduces New ELEVATE™ Platform System

Pipp Horticulture (a division of Pipp Mobile Storage Systems, Inc.), a leading provider of space‐saving, multi‐level mobile cultivation systems, announced the new ELEVATE™ Platform System that will be readily available for cultivators to purchase. The ELEVATE™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, and portable deck to allow cultivators to access PIPP’s Multi-Tier Mobile Grow Racks quickly, efficiently, and most importantly – safely.

“As the leading provider of Mobile Vertical Grow Rack Systems, we took it as our personal mission to solve one of vertical farming’s primary challenges – how to access the upper levels. We continually challenge ourselves to focus on innovation and developing products with the goal of enhancing our customer’s performance. We formed a dedicated team of in‐house experts, consisting of engineers and experienced cultivators to develop our patent‐pending ELEVATE™ Platform System. ELEVATE™ is a modular catwalk system that creates an entire full-length walking and working aisle platform allowing cultivators to quickly and safely service the upper levels of their grow.” said Craig Umans, President and CEO of Pipp.

The ELEVATE™ Platform System is a modular catwalk system and was designed to integrate with PIPP’s Bulk Rack Shelving Systems without any modifications and can be installed on new or existing mobile vertical grow racks.

Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System

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NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

For the past several years, Pipp Horticulture’s mission has been to help cultivators across the globe save time and money by creating a more efficient grow facility and helping streamline operations. Pipp has not only developed a product line that was purposefully designed to serve the cannabis cultivation market, but they added experienced cultivators and industry experts to their team to continuously improve their services and develop products that positively affect canopy output and facility operations.

While focusing on this mission and to meet a broader range of customer requirements and price points, Pipp engineered their new, patent-pending TRAK FREE™ Carriage System. The revolutionary advancement of the TRAK-FREE™ Carriage System is the single guide rail along the back of the system rather than multiple tracks in the walkway. This system not only saves time and money on materials and installation but also helps cultivators: improve efficiencies of standard operating procedures and safety measures, reduce potential floor impediments, and effortlessly move other necessary equipment like carts, racks, and ladders around the grow room.

*Patent-Pending

TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

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Vertical Grow Room Design: How to Service the Upper Levels of Your Grow

Vertical farming is the future of innovative agriculture globally. In fact, vertical farming may play a role in meeting the ever-growing need for food. Due to this increased demand for vertical farming, your vertical grow room design and setup are continually becoming more important.

Indoor cannabis growers can all agree on one thing: electricity is expensive! Some places in the country like Humboldt County are known for their sun-grown flower. But growers in other locations don’t have the luxury of growing outdoors. Whether it’s due to climate or local regulations, many growers in the regulated cannabis market are forced to grow indoors.

Vertical farming increases your total canopy area and increases your total yield while decreasing the average cost per pound.

Every grow operation is unique and requires a customized installation and vertical grow room design. What works for one cannabis cultivator may not necessarily work the same way for the next. Location, building structure, size, locality, local laws, local climate weather patterns, OSHA compliance, and SEISMIC compliance, are just a few factors to consider.

Types of Vertical Setups

Vertical farms and a vertical grow system can be set up in all kinds of facilities, ranging from warehouses, large buildings, storage containers and mobile grow boxes. But all of them really fall under two basic categories: true vertical and stacked vertical.

True Vertical

In true vertical farming, you’ll see the plants growing out of the side of a column, with all the nutrients and water dripping top down. Organic kale, lettuce, and other greens are commonly grown in true vertical farms. There are many different variations of this method, but all of them have the same goal in mind.

Stacked Vertical

Stacking grow trays above each other is known as stacked vertical farming. Because space is a concern both vertically and horizontally, you’ll want to keep the plants topped and defoliated, so that they remain short and stubby. Some strains and cultivars are better fitted for indoor grow operations than others.

Vertical grows should be wise in selecting which genetics to deploy. The best-yielding vertical farms grow phenos that are naturally short with big, heavy buds. They also tend to have fewer leaves, requiring less hands-on defoliation. However, some experienced growers do grow taller strains as well. Technically, you could grow just about any strain of cannabis or hemp in a vertical farm setup.

Stacked Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Benefits Of Vertical Growing

So why is vertical farming such a big deal in the cannabis cultivation world? It’s because it allows growers to experience:

  • Reduced air conditioning costs
  • Reduced heating costs
  • Decreased energy consumption
  • Doubled or tripled yields
  • Reduced water usage
  • Reduced fertilizer usage
  • Decreased cycle time
  • Decrease in overall cost per pound

Vertical Farming In Every Stage Of Your Grow

Vertical farming has profound applications in four major areas.

Nursery

You’ll want to consider the flow of your space in the early stages of your design phase. Begin by itemizing all of the fixtures, including HVAC, drains, sprinklers, electric panels, doors, overhead emergency lights, and pipes.

If you’re designing a new space or upgrading one to vertical racking, it’s a good idea to keep an open design on a final location like a wall or door. The goal is to maximize your canopy, given all the obstacles and objects in the room.

You may not always need door relocation. However, adjusting the location of the door may prove to be beneficial not just for maximizing canopy yield, but also for improved safety and workplace ergonomics.

Cultivation

 

In order to efficiently design your cultivation layout, you’ll need to consider things like:

  • Type of grow space
  • Desired number of grow tiers
  • Types of trays
  • Height between racks
  • Critical wall dimensions
  • Doors, egress paths, columns
  • Electrical panels
  • Ceiling height
  • Light height
  • Type of flooring
  • Any other obstructions
Cannabis Trimming

Drying & Curing

Top growers know that the drying and curing stage is crucial to delivering top-notch products that have realized their full genetic potential.

Drying carts are a crucial part of your process and can really help streamline your workflow. They are specially designed for hanging your plants to dry and come with special finger attachments.

 

Storage

Shelf carts are great for both storing and transporting your product. The levels are completely adjustable and you can easily add more shelves as needed.

Combo carts bring the best of both worlds by providing exclusive hanging attachments for drying and adjustable shelves below for storage and transport. Now that we’ve covered the different types of vertical farm setups, the benefits, applications, and storage, let’s move on to servicing the upper levels.

How Do You Service the Upper Levels?

This is one of the most common questions we get. It’s important to have full access to the upper levels so that all the plants in your facility get the exact same scrutinous eye and nurturing hands. You don’t want pests, mold, or anything else to creep up on you if the top level of your vertical system can’t be seen or accessed.

The NEW Elevate™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, and portable deck to allow cultivators to access PIPP’s Multi-Tier Mobile Grow Racks quickly, efficiently, and most importantly – safely.

Pipp’s latest innovation, the Elevate™ Platform System, features the following:

  • Quick and simple setup with more time available to care for plants and less time spent preparing your workspace.
  • Lightweight components allow one person to set up the entire system. Two people make it a breeze.
  • Aluminum and Galvanized steel components for great corrosion resistance.

Safety is a big concern for any commercial operator. Ensuring workers have easy access to the plants while also minimizing their reach and risk of fall is crucial for owners and managers running a tight ship.

Cost is another factor for commercial grow looking to optimize their facility and introduce vertical racks. How to service those upper levels becomes a decision between cost, efficiency, and scale. The simplest option will be the cheapest, yet it will require more labor hours to move between the rows and levels. The higher-cost option is the most automated, yet the most expensive.

We’ve covered how to access the upper levels, so now let’s move on to the tools used to do this. There are three major types: ladders, rolling scaffolding, and lifts.

Ladders

Ladders, while simple, is a bit more challenging to use in vertical farming.

Because they do not provide a flat working space, they can make things less ergonomic.

The taller the ladder, the wider it has to be to allow for ease of movement. Platform ladders are good for when workers need to spend long periods of time in one particular spot on the ladder.

Platform ladders come with a rail guard, located at the top. This helps stabilize the user while accessing the upper levels. It also allows the user to free up both hands, in order to focus on the work. Some of the platform ladders even come with castors that make it easier to move from one area to the next.

 

Most store-bought ladders will be OSHA-compliant too.

Vertical Farming at Redbud Roots

Rolling Scaffolding

While ladders are the least expensive option, rolling scaffolding or platforms are a bit more costly. The advantage of using scaffolding is that you can easily move from room to room. Workers who have to change their position on a frequent basis would benefit from rolling scaffolding.

Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation

Lifts

Lifts are another option, however, they are usually the most expensive solution for accessing and working at those higher levels. However, if your grow is larger in scale and demands that workers spend long periods of time at the upper levels, then lifts may be a better option.

Lifts can be manually operated or motorized. Pricing varies greatly, depending on your selected options. If you have two tiers or more, lifts can offer the greatest amount of efficiency for your space and workforce.

For a three and four-level grow operation, lifts are typically necessary. Lifts can be moved while a person is still on the equipment. Instead of climbing down to move the equipment and climb back up, lifts save a ton of time. They are also usually better powered but will need recharging after use.

While there are several different choices available, you’ll probably want to contact a PIPP design/installation professional in order to help you determine which option is right for you. This can assist you in making an informed decision that best fits your facility’s needs.

 This can assist you in making an informed decision that best fits your facility’s needs.
Vertical Farming
Some Tips To Keep In Mind

Figuring out how to design and oversee vertical grow can be a bit overwhelming. However, you don’t have to go at it alone. No matter what route you choose, there are key fundamentals to any vertical farm grow setup.

  1. When deciding on the best options for your grow facility, you’ll need to weigh the cost of the solution versus the efficiencies the solution offers. But keep in mind, worker efficiency is crucial to the old adage “time is money”.
  2. Typically, the more efficient a solution, the higher its cost. You may want to consider doing timed studies with employees to get a handle on how much time may be spent inefficiently using one solution over another. This will help you determine the right cost-benefit solution for you.
  3. Also, you’ll want to be sure that whatever solution you decide fits from an ergonomic standpoint. You don’t want to fatigue your employees or put them in unsafe working conditions. The best solution will allow one to stand comfortably and minimize time spent bending over or working in a stretched position.
  4. The best solutions include the storage of tools needed to access the upper levels. Your workers should experience a safe and easy transition from one tool to the next in the course of their work.
  5. Lastly, safety should always be a priority. Because no two grow operations are the same, setups can differ and solutions need to be customized. Bars and safety rails help provide security to workers. And high density grow racks come equipped with a locking mechanism that secures its position while people are working on the equipment.
Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation

Wrap-Up Conclusion

 

Vertical farming is the future for indoor cannabis growers. As a cultivation

business scales and increases its square footage or room numbers, facility design can become more complex.

Growing indoors is an expensive venture, but one that can produce incredible results, both with the quality of cannabis and profits.

While you want to maximize your growth and profits, you also want to minimize hassles and costs.

Interested in seeing how much revenue you could be making with vertical farming? Enter your facility’s current canopy space, production metrics, and sales price to see how much you could be making when you upgrade your indoor farm to PIPP Horticulture’s Cannabis Grow Racks! 

Cannabis Grow Room Yield Calculator

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Designing Your Grow Room: Top Tips From Industry Experts

Join Pipp Horticulture, Fluence Bioengineering and Vertical Air Solutions as they dive into the cannabis side of vertical farming. From vertical grow room facility design and technology considerations to the importance of an integrated approach, watch as the cultivation experts discuss the necessary tools to grow in 2020 and beyond. 

 

Interested in seeing how much revenue you could be making with vertical farming? Enter your facility’s current canopy space, production metrics, and sales price to see how much you could be making when you upgrade your indoor farm to PIPP Horticulture’s Cannabis Grow Racks! 

Cannabis Yield Calculator

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Sea-Hunter-Case-Study

Sea Hunter Therapeutics Case Study

Just a few short years ago, Sea Hunter Therapeutics decided to move forward with vertical farming to increase their canopy. They started with moving benches to increase space by eliminating the gap the aisles created. After years of working with their own vertical farming system, they decided to take their cultivation efforts to the next level. That’s where Pipp Horticulture stepped in.

Even with 10’ ceiling height limitations, we creatively designed a state-of-the-art, multi-level vertical grow system for them in Taunton, MA generating over an astonishing 50,000 sq. ft. of canopy space! “We just love these racks.” CJ with Sea Hunter stated. “They easily go back and forth, and even full of material they move very smoothly.”

Check out more about Sea Hunter Therapeutics cultivation process and how Pipp Horticulture’s mobile vertical racks more than doubled their canopy.

 

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Part III: Integration with Advancing Environmental Control Technologies

Part 3: Integration with Advancing Environmental Control Technologies

In the first two parts of this series, we explored numerous advantages of implementing a Pipp Horticulture mobile vertical racking solution in your grow.  We started this series by first looking at the big picture of implementing a vertical racking system: increasing canopy space to reduce and absorb fixed costs.  Cultivators maximize the space they have through the implementation of a mobile vertical racking system, which means either requiring a smaller space initially and allowing for the cost of the cultivation space to be absorbed quicker or by producing substantially more in a fixed amount of space.  Increasing canopy space without increasing square-footage may provide substantial benefit to cultivators operating in states with strict canopy space regulations.  Vertical racking also allows for greater absorption of the burdensome “canopy tax”, based off cultivation square-footage, that some cultivators have begun to face in recent years. In the second part of this series, we took an in-depth look at how implementing Pipp Horticulture mobile vertical racking solutions will lower the initial capital expense of environmental system requirements, as well as long-term energy consumption per gram. Vertical racking systems typically utilize LED lighting, which may have a higher initial cost than HPS lights used in single-tiered cultivations, but the ROI on LEDs is typically faster than HPS, and they may require less maintenance and lower operating costs over time.  Through the use of LEDs, HVAC requirements can be reduced and cost less to operate over time.  Because LEDs emit less heat and require less energy than HPS lighting systems, environmental systems can stabilize quicker, thus reducing the fundamental needs of your HVAC system, as well as costs to operate over time. In the final installment of this series, we are going to explore further the types of environmental systems utilized with a Pipp Horticulture mobile vertical racking solution, and how the technology of each can ensure success when integrated with a multi-tier system.  Pipp Horticulture systems are designed to embrace and integrate with the numerous technological advancements made in terms of lighting, irrigation, and other environmental controls, and utilize an in-house team of experts to ensure the client’s are aware of options to integrate third-party systems and technology to control environment, capture data and drive performance.

Seamless Integration with Environmental Controls

Many cultivators today are implementing automated environmental control systems that capture and utilize data to make minor adjustments to maintain an ideal environment to produce higher-quality, more consistent products. Each microclimate, which may be a tray, grow room, or greenhouse requires different inputs, consistent implementation, and monitoring of numerous environmental variables such as: Temperature and relative humidity – These factors are set, monitored, and maintained through HVAC and environmental control systems.  It is essential to implement a system optimal for growing cannabis, which differs from standard HVAC systems in homes and office spaces. Growers looking to maximize outputs will regulate temperature and humidity to control , a key component of healthy plant growth. Maintaining consistent and optimal temperature and humidity throughout a plant’s life cycle can significantly improve performance and mitigate risk. Lighting – Automated lighting can include timers, sensors, moving methods, and light meters. Systems must be reliable, efficient, and integrate with other environmental controls to provide the optimal amount of lighting required for peak performance. Fertigation and Irrigation – Many cultivators have turned to automated fertigation systems, which are responsible for delivering precise amounts of nutrients to plants, and often integrate with irrigation systems.  These high-tech systems ensure accuracy and efficiency, reduce labor, and increase productivity in cultivations. CO2 supplementation and concentration – Many cultivators supplement their plants with carbon dioxide which, when used correctly, can lead to quicker harvest times and larger yields.  Typically, carbon dioxide is injected into the air and requires distribution with the use of fans or other mechanical systems Carbon dioxide levels should always be monitored to ensure plant health and employee safety. AirflowAdequate air circulation is necessary to create an optimal growing environment. Airflow helps maintain temperature and humidity, prevents mold and pests, and can strengthen stems and stalks promoting an all-around healthier plant.

LED’s: An Advanced and Sustainable Lighting Solution

A significant component of vertical racking systems that requires further exploration is the use of LED lights over industry-standard HPS lighting.  Vertical racking systems often utilize high-density lighting, and because LED (light-emitting diode) lights produce low amounts of heat, making them ideal for close-range applications, and most commonly used in vertical grow systems.  More efficient light uniformity from LEDs allows cultivators to position lights closer to the plants, thus increasing the amount of light that penetrates the canopy and increases yields. Earlier generations of LEDs came up short when compared to HPS lighting; however, in recent years, technological advancements have addressed these shortcomings, and LEDs have come to surpass HPS technologically.  What many cultivators may not realize is that much of the light emitted from HPS lights is waste, as plants do not absorb the unvarying light spectrum they provide.  LED lights can target a particular light spectrum needed for photosynthesis, and by manipulating the range of light the plant receives and delivering that light with high precision, LEDs can improve a cultivator’s yields and cannabinoid concentrations. Automation and control of lighting systems can recreate natural light cycles and control intensity to mimic sunrise and sunset. Not only does the implementation of LEDs in a vertical racking system allow for improvement in plant quality, but it also provides a sustainable and environmentally-conscious solution for demanding lighting needs, as well as long-term savings on energy costs.

Vertical Racking Solutions: Positioning Cultivators for Success and Longevity

Cultivators around the globe are seeing the benefits of implementing mobile vertical racking solutions to augment performance and efficiency throughout the entire cultivation facility.  Not only are space and canopy increased, but there is a direct effect on the company’s bottom line by increasing revenue, providing for greater absorption of fixed costs, and a reduction of COGS as production increases.  Utilizing advanced and automated technologies in areas such as lighting and environmental controls integrated with Pipp Horticulture vertical racking provide cultivators with consistent, controllable, and replicable grow environments.  While some of the cannabis industry is still operating single-tiered cultivations, operators that have implemented mobile vertical systems have set themselves up to remain competitive, maintain market share, and drive down costs while producing a consistent, high-quality, and high-yielding product.

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Part II: Implementing A Mobile Multi-Level Cultivation System in Your Facility

 

Part 2: Lower Energy Consumption Needed to Maintain Environmental Controls

In the second part of this series, we explore another benefit of implementing Pipp Horticulture mobile vertical racking solutions throughout your facility: lowering immediate and long-term energy consumption per gram, as well as initial capital expense.  In addition to increasing canopy space and your bottom line, as discussed in the first part of this series, vertical cultivation simultaneously lowers expenditures on energy, accruing savings into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, for cultivators over time.  Not only can a vertical cultivation system reduce overhead costs per unit, but through implementation, cultivators can create a more efficient, sustainable and environmentally-conscious platform.

Exponential Energy Costs for Cultivators

In many states with recreational or medicinal cannabis programs, the laws dictate that cannabis must be grown indoors, thus forcing cultivators to replicate essential elements in nature, such as the sun, wind, humidity through their system of environmental controls.  Because of this, cannabis cultivation has become known for the massive mechanical infrastructure and the energy it requires and its effect on the environment, with research concluding that cannabis cultivation consumes up to 10 times the amount of energy as an office building.  Cultivators often see their energy costs accounting for up to 50% of their overhead expenditures, with the majority of those costs spent on lighting and HVAC needs. Unfortunately, many cultivators miss opportunities to be more energy-efficient and cost-effective when designing their grow.  Opting for standard single-tiered designs and lower initial equipment costs cause cultivators to lose countless savings on fixed-costs as well as the opportunity to increase revenue with additional canopy space. Utility companies have now started to incentivize cannabis cultivators to embrace best practices as well.  To prevent overloading of energy distribution systems, utility companies have and continue to develop programs to achieve energy-savings goals for both the utility company and cultivators.  Incentives such as energy-savings opportunity studies, engineering-design analysis, and rebates, are encouraging cannabis companies to reduce their energy consumption as well as environmental impact.  These opportunities are not just reserved for cultivators in the “new construction” phase and typically extend to those retrofitting and remodeling.

Reducing Overhead Through Vertical Grow Applications

Through the implementation of Pipp Horticulture and Greenhaus Industries vertical racking systems, cultivators are saving substantially on their energy costs per gram.  Traditional lighting sources, such as single or double-ended HPS lights used by many cultivators, lack the benefit of being able to be placed in close-range to the plants due to the excessive heat they produce.  The technological advancements made in LED lighting allow them to be fully utilized in vertically-designed grow systems.  The low thermal output from the lights is optimal for vertical cultivation because they can be placed close to the plants without the fear of burning or over-heating them. Lower thermal output of LED lighting also allows for a reduction of capital expenditures and operating expenses associated with HVAC. In addition to low thermal output from LEDs, less energy is needed to operate, and LEDs have a longer lifespan than other lighting used by cultivators.  According to the US Department of Energy, converting to energy-efficient LED lighting allows for an average of 24% to 30% reduction in operating costs, and have even been known to reduce cultivator operating costs as much as 50% long-term.  The LED lights employed in vertical racking systems typically get approximately 50,000 hours of use (over ten years on a 12:12 lighting schedule), where standard HPS lights need to be replaced annually, at least.  Unfortunately, due to established beliefs, lack of institutional funding and higher initial cost of implementing LED lighting, the adoption of the technology has been slow.  Despite the higher initial cost, the ROI of LED lights in conjunction with mobile vertical cultivation is achieved faster, by the significantly reduced operating cost and equipment replacement fees, as well as the additional revenue gained with LED lights and vertical racking. In addition to the considerable amount of energy expended and costs associated with, the lighting needs of cultivators are the ongoing costs to maintain their HVAC system.  HVAC systems, which are responsible for reducing outdoor contamination, as well as maintaining the ideal temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, can account for as much as 50% of the energy costs endured by cultivators.  These systems, responsible for maintaining various environmental controls, reduce a cultivator’s risk for harmful plant conditions, such as mold and mildew.  Technological advancements and energy-efficiency opportunities have been slow to surface regarding the HVAC systems used by cultivators who, when designing their grows, generally use designs from companies lacking cannabis experience, and the knowledge of the intricate environmental controls needed.  Equipment used for standard home and office uses are often employed, and struggle to keep up with the demands of the grow. HVAC systems never stop running and have a consistent demand put on them when they are on.  In single-level grows, each time lights are powered up or turned off, the HVAC system has to work to catch up with the amount of heat being either emitted into or reduced from the environment.  By implementing vertical racking systems using LED technology, the ongoing demand for HVAC controls are spread over increased output.  Environmental conditions stabilize quicker and with greater ease due to the lessened amount of heat distributed from the lights. Utilizing vertical racking systems with LED lighting reduces CAPEX expenditures needed per unit of output,

Achieving Best Practices in Your Grow

By incorporating energy and space-efficient practices throughout a grow, cultivators can increase production and drive down operating costs, while maintaining stability.  Technological advancements have allowed for more efficient and eco-conscious cultivating methods, with vertical growing applications being at the forefront of these advancements.  Pipp Horticulture mobile vertical racking systems are designed to accommodate and easily integrate a wide range of requirements to meet environmental needs and controls. Through the implementation of vertical racking systems, the energy expended to meet the environmental demands of an indoor cultivator is consistently reduced, over time as well as initially.  Best practices are met and exceeded with vertical growing systems by allowing cultivators to decrease overhead per unit and have additional capital to reinvest in their company.

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Implementing A Mobile Multi-Level Cultivation System in Your Facility

Part I: Fixed Cost Absorption and Reduction

In the first of a three-part series, we explore how implementing Pipp Horticulture mobile multi-level cultivation and space optimization systems can drastically increase output, improve your bottom line and maximize your ROI.  In an industry like cannabis, where fixed costs continue to rise, increasing the bottom line and improving efficiencies is essential to success. Vertical applications throughout production facilities mean more than just an increase in plant count; it is a calculated way to remain competitive in a capital-intensive industry.

Increasing Canopy Space, Without the Square Footage

Rent is on the rise in the cannabis space.  Cultivators across the country are finding that the availability of properties to lease, especially warehouse space, have come into short supply in recent years.  Furthermore, property owners are more reluctant to rent to cannabis tenants, due to the compounded risks and responsibilities they take on when doing so. The general rule-of-thumb for cannabis tenants has become paying 2-3 times the amount of rent that a “traditional” tenant would.  Lynwood, a city in Los Angeles County, is a perfect example of this hike.  In comparison to other cities in Los Angeles County, Lynwood’s cannabis taxes are significantly lower, making it desirable for many cannabis cultivators.  Due to this high demand, industrial buildings which were renting for $107-$120 per-square-foot in 2016 were going for over $300 for the same space in 2018. Cultivators implementing a Pipp Horticulture mobile or vertical cultivation system have the upper hand when taking on a commercial lease.  Because vertical racking systems can maximize space throughout the operation, creative facility design can double or triple usable canopy space. Under these scenarios, businesses may forgo committing to a large warehouse space that they hope to grow into over time.  Installing vertical racking in a cultivation facility allows for the fixed cost of rent to be either smaller initially or absorbed quicker because of the advantage of producing more in the same existing space. Additionally, cultivators have been mobilizing vertical racks which eliminate permanent or static aisles, further optimizing and maximizing canopy space.  Mobile racks allow for the creation of “floating” aisles that can be deployed when needed, to ensure all areas of the cultivation are accessible for an efficient workflow.  Lastly, several operators have used vertical applications to allow the ease of scaling up when needed, by installing the infrastructure and initial levels, then when ready to expand, they simply add additional grow trays from Greenhaus Industries. This strategy eliminates additional permitting and construction costs and delays.

State Obligations

Not only do state regulations dictate whether cultivators can operate indoors or outdoors, but some also impose a cap on the square footage a cultivator can allocate for vegetative and flower space. In recent years, cultivators have begun facing the burden of a “canopy tax,” imposed by cities and governments to increase their budgets from the cannabis industry.  The tax, based on cultivation square footage, can be as much as several dollars a square foot. For those working under these mandates, implementing a vertical application is the way to maximize that allotted space and remain competitive. In some states and municipalities, grow restrictions and taxes are based on square footage vs. canopy. In these cases, a vertical cultivation system can be utilized to increase productivity or reduce COGS. For those operating in states with plant count limitations, vertical racking is also beneficial.  Not only does it maximize space, but it allows for ease to scale up.  Some states, such as New Mexico, allow for cultivators to apply to increase their plant limit, as market demands.  When implementing a vertical cultivation system, the ability to increase production is already in place and allows operators to do so with great ease and efficiency.

Lowering Energy Capacity and Needs

In cannabis cultivation, the cost of energy is second only to labor.  Not only is the ongoing cost of energy burdensome, but so are the initial expenditures.  The capital expenditure for a cultivator to install lighting and HVAC can eat up a large part of the budget, and if calculated or installed incorrectly, can be even more costly and time-consuming for the cultivator. In addition to the cost of energy is the looming environmental footprint caused by the vast amount of energy required by a cultivation facility.  Intensive energy loads put a strain on local communities, and some states have gone as far as imposing caps on energy consumption.  Some cities have begun offering incentive programs for energy efficient upgrades for indoor agriculture as well. Vertical racking systems paired with LEDs (to be explored in Part II of this series), can reduce the need for, and impact of, energy consumption by cultivators. Additionally, LEDs require significantly fewer kilowatts than standard high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting does.  Not only are kilowatt-hours used with the implementation of LEDs, but LEDs are also designed to emit less heat.  Less heat means less heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC). If implementing vertical racking during the build-out phase of a cultivation facility, HVAC costs (per sq. ft of canopy) could be lower than if implementing a horizontal grow.  Beyond the initial capital expenditure of installing an HVAC system, is the reduced monthly energy cost to run it.  For those considering converting their horizontal grow space into a vertical one, amortizing costs over greater canopy space can significantly reduce COGS. Mobile racking is “green” by design in various ways from utilizing recycled materials to allowing operators to gain efficiency and optimize capacity in a fixed footprint. Multi-level strategy increases the potential viability of space that may not be suited or big enough to support single-level operations and allows operators to stay in spaces that typically are outgrown without space optimization. A smaller building also means fewer construction materials, reducing energy consumption and costs.

Increasing Yield, Increasing Bottom Line

Utilizing a Pipp Horticulture mobile multi-level cultivation system throughout the facility offers an array of benefits and options for cannabis cultivators.  Lower initial capital expenditures on factors such as rent, combined with lower operational costs, are not the only desirable outcomes.  Maximizing canopy space and the ability and ease to scale-up as needed give cultivators new-found security and growth potential in their operation and the industry as a whole.  Implementing a vertical application allows cultivators to remain competitive in an industry where increasing efficiencies and reducing expenditures is the way to win.

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Our Tallest Cannabis Grow Rack Yet

Take a look at our tallest cannabis grow rack, the Panama Pallet Rack, standing at an impressive 26’ Tall x 50’ Long! At Pipp Horticulture, we are constantly pushing ourselves to engineer the best products at the highest quality to provide our customers the most durable cultivation systems in the vertical farming industry. Pretty amazing isn’t it?

 

 

Impressed with our tallest cannabis grow rack? Have you seen pictures from our new showroom yet? Check it out!

https://pipphorticulture.com/our-new-showroom-is-under-construction/

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