ABM Equipment has developed a new drying system in coordination with Kason and Marion Process Solutions that advances what is achievable in the industrial hemp sector. Engaging a full system approach and open dialogue with customers has helped them develop a cohesive system from whole plant intake through bulk packaging of dried extraction biomass. Intaking whole plants, baled or fresh off the field, the new system shreds and dries the product before removing stalks and stems and packaging the premium biomass in bulk bags.
The new system dries up to 8,000 lbs/hr/dryer and involves several different steps, each of which can be used in isolation to improve other hemp handling processes popular among co-ops and tollers.
Conveying fresh harvested or baled hemp prior to shredders or mills is necessary to any processing operation. Ensuring minimal downtime from jamming of product is critical since time-sensitive fresh product must be dried promptly. Conveyor jamming has constantly been a pain point for customers, ABM has developed conveyor designs that reduce jams, meet the speeds, layout, needs and existing equipment of each facility.
Shredding machines are a quick and consistent way to homogenize hemp while maintaining product integrity, making the drying process more effective. Mills are known for smashing product, which causes particulates to stick to every surface, making cleaning an unavoidable nightmare, but also compresses the product, reducing the efficiency of the drying process.
Drying methodology is arguably the most important factor in differentiating processors and provide a competitive edge. Until recently, tumble and belt dryers have been the standard for the industry, however, both have inherent flaws and drawbacks. Tumble dryers use heat as an accelerant which are known for toasting product, driving off precious CBD. Belt dryers draw air from above, which creates concentrated air streams which inevitably causes wet spots which are prone to mold or over-drying.
Through the introduction of fluid bed dryers, ABM Equipment has not only decreased the amount of time and energy required to dry hemp, but also eliminated the risk of over-drying.
Fluid beds dryers push air up through the product which is being constantly shifted by vibration. This fluidizes it and maximizes the hemp’s exposure to air. By using heat as an accelerant rather than a primary driver of evaporation, the method retains more cannabinoids* and dries to specified temperature eliminating the risk of over-drying. Additionally, the majority of lost trichomes are captured and returned to each batch instead of accumulating on the wall of the dryer or being lost into the environment.
Separation of product post-drying is much easier as there is an overall reduction in tackiness, fibrous stalks maintain most of their size and premium product tends to shrink. Mechanical separation through screeners and sifters are precise, compact and energy efficient, making them essential for preserving the value of your product.
Packaging dried hemp presents its own set of challenges, including flow interruptions, temperature fluctuations and moisture regulation. Surge hopper placement within a facility coupled with flow aids manage and regulate uneven product flow for proper packaging into bulk bags, drums, or other vessels prior to further processing. Often the last step before extraction, product packaging and material handling must be considered from the start – assuring quality at each step in your process ensures the highest value product yield.
ABM Equipment Co. Inc. is a systems development and integration firm working with Kason Corp. and Marion Process Solutions to deliver cohesive, systems with a single point of responsibility. With over 40 years’ experience in bulk processing and hundreds of proprietary solutions in place for large players in the food and pharma industries, ABM is proud to launch their solutions to the cannabis market.
*Than tumble dryers.