Hardware choices boost efficiency and regulatory compliance.
Voter approval of cannabis for medicinal use in Missouri has sparked the birth of an entirely new industry in the state. Rules and regulations are taking shape as business owners and investors plan the basics of their operations behind the scenes.
If you’re launching a cannabis production, manufacturing or distributor business, your first step is finding warehouse space and laying out a wireless communications infrastructure. You’ll also want to quickly identify the right hardware tools for handling your inventory.
“We all know that efficiency helps make a business more competitive,” says Mike Markham, Commenco’s Director of Technology Solutions. “Smart technologies optimize cannabis operations and send the right message to regulators. It’s really the heart of what Commenco does in a warehouse setting.”
Markham is an expert at helping businesses identify communications hardware that’s a good match for their needs and their software systems. He says warehouse operations commonly build their hardware around a Warehouse Management System (WMS).
“Your WMS is going to direct how your operation stores product and moves it in and out of your warehouse. It’s going to maximize storage space.”
The potential of a WMS depends on information fed into it. That’s where hardware comes into play and executes a critical responsibility in the hands of cannabis business workers.
“There are all kinds of special labeling and handling requirements. Mobile screens and barcode scanners allow workers to stay on top of everything that’s happening. When their devices engage the WMS, it’s going to tell them where to put product. When they ship it out, devices are going to tell them how much to ship and confirm the process. The mobile computing, scanning and printing side of an operation is huge.”
Beyond hand-held devices, other warehouse hardware works pretty much on its own. In Missouri’s cannabis industry, state regulators are already showing a preference for the prevalent use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
RFID goes a long way in tracking cannabis from seed to sale. The technology serializes plant and package tags, and follows them all the way through the licensed cannabis supply chain. RFID hardware is truly ‘“intelligent,” reading tag information without requiring a direct line of sight to tags, and the tags can be several yards away from the hardware. Markham says RFID saves time and offers valuable precision.
“You can inventory a sizeable room of product quickly and even differentiate between products. RFID creates a strong record of who has product and when. State regulators favor that level of control in the cannabis industry.”
RFID reduces the risk of human error and delivers speed. You can imagine how much easier and faster warehouse work processes can be when the technology is effectively integrated. Markham describes one scenario.
“Imagine a truck backed up to a loading dock. Workers pack product into the truck without having to think much about tracking or recording it. A nearby RFID reader is doing all of that automatically by connecting with product tags through a radio wave.”
Identifying the right hardware for your cannabis operation is not something that should be done in isolation.
You’ll want to coordinate hardware selection with your approach to software. Commenco has a long history of collaborating with software suppliers and believes coordination up front is the best way to go.
“Businesses will sometimes buy into a software system only to find out later that it doesn’t work with the hardware they want. That’s why we have such close relationships with software companies. When we develop the whole package together at the same time, everyone wins.”
Equipping your warehouse with matching hardware and software systems that also work well with your WMS and interface perfectly with overarching wireless infrastructure is a smart investment.
A holistic approach to nailing it all down at the outset reduces the risk of compatibility issues, technical glitches, and inefficiencies that cost time and money. A strong, comprehensive system also supports the kind of reporting and overall transparency that will become standard in Missouri’s heavily regulated cannabis industry.
Commenco is your trusted source of warehouse communication technology information as the cannabis industry evolves in Missouri.