With the patchwork of state regulations governing use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it can be a challenge for cannabis food and beverage manufacturers to expand their operations to new markets.
Securing supplies of needed ingredients is one of those challenges. SōRSE, maker of emulsion of technology, has developed a solution — a mobile unit that visits customers where they are. It includes everything to make SoRSE besides cannabis material, which clients provide on-site.
SōRSE COO Tyler Peterson recently spoke to Cannabis Products about the origin of the company’s mobile unit, how it works, and how it’s helped customers.
CP: What was the inspiration behind the mobile lab? When did SōRSE begin developing it?
TP: About a year and a half ago, one of our clients, CANN, a beverage company that produces a low-dose social tonic, was looking to expand to new states. They needed us to supply them with SōRSE emulsion, the backbone of their beverage. We did not have production capabilities in some of the states they were interested, so the Operations team decided to create a mobile unit and take our production capabilities to them.
CP: What does the mobile lab include? What capabilities does it have?
TP: The mobile unit includes everything needed to make SōRSE besides cannabis material, which is provided by the client. This includes production equipment, analytical instruments, supplies, and raw materials. All are secured within a 48-inch by 48-inch by 48-inch heavy-duty crate. Currently we have two crates that are in the field.
Converting a kilo of active cannabinoid (1,000,000 mg) typically takes two days using the mobile lab’s equipment. Once the crate and SōRSE technician arrive at the facility where the conversion will occur, we ensure that everything is ready for production. On the second day, that oil will be converted to our industry-leading water-soluble emulsion. By the end of the second day, the emulsion will be packaged, and all contents of the crate will be thoroughly cleaned and reloaded into the crate to be shipped to the next location.
This same equipment can be used to convert up to 6 kg of active cannabinoid in a five-day work week. Different solutions are available for clients who require larger volumes.
CP: Does SōRSE have a dedicated team to go with it?
TP: Mobile runs are executed by members of the Ops team who have been trained to monitor all quality aspects during production and respond to unexpected situations, which can be the nature of producing in new facilities.
A vast skillset is required involving not only production experience, but also building and equipment maintenance, experience operating analytical instruments and interpreting results, shipping and logistics, understanding of GMP practices, and understanding the regulatory system where the run is occurring.
CP: When did the mobile lab hit the road? Where has SōRSE taken it so far?
TP: The mobile lab first hit the road during the spring of 2020, and so far, it’s been used in California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Rhode Island, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
CP: Can you share some of the projects you’ve worked on so far?
TP: We have helped fuel the expansion of two companies into multi-state operations. Aside from those clients, we have helped many individual licenses get into the water-soluble market without prohibitively expensive development costs or requiring royalty agreements for their brands.
CP: Are there any general product development insights SōRSE has learned through the mobile lab that you can share?
TP: The products made with the mobile lab have demonstrated great versatility. Through our experiences on the road, we have seen all kinds of production lines and ways of incorporating SōRSE emulsion that clients have thought of. We have yet to run into a production setup where the emulsion cannot be used. Our clients have never had to make sacrifices to things like precise dosing just to make it work.
CP: How have clients received the mobile services?
TP: The mobile services have been very well-received by our clients. Offering this level of service shows them that we see ourselves as partners in their expansion and overall success. It also gives our clients consistency in their product because we are using the same equipment and ingredients we do at our own facility. Not every supplier has the capability to manufacture in new locations, much less test for key quality parameters. Mobile runs have been beneficial for us because we have been introduced to partners in new states, and we have learned a lot about how the industry operates in different states.
CP: How does the mobile lab help with speed to market?
TP: The key to a successful mobile run is the SōRSE team maximizing its time onsite and efficiently utilizing our resources. The more our customers can communicate what their specific goals and needs are for these runs and execute the plan from their end, the quicker they will be able to get their product to market.
CP: What’s next for the mobile lab?
TP: If things continue to progress the way they have been, our mobile lab team will continue to grow, with more technicians on the road doing production. As we begin operating in more states, we will pursue deeper partnerships that have the capabilities to accommodate scaled production and distribution of SōRSE products within their respective states.