You’ve been thinking about a grow facility upgrade for some time, but you’ve never quite found the right moment to take the leap.
Volatile financial markets, revenue shortfalls and the general uncertainties plaguing the entire world have got you rethinking. The need to preserve cash flow has rarely been greater, and reducing costs is vital (particularly if you’re in niches such as cannabis).
In light of the many financial constraints, you’ve tossed your grow facility upgrade plans to the backburner. After all, a facility upgrade won’t come cheap and it’s a good idea to keep things as they are for now.
Sounds right, right?
It’s true. A grow facility upgrade will require some considerable investment and it will require some work, but it does come with benefits – benefits that may far outweigh any drawbacks.
What can a grow facility upgrade do for your operation?
Here are 5 benefits your operation can reap from upgrading your grow facility.
1. A better, smarter facility
Some questions that prompt the need for a grow facility upgrade include:
- Is the facility energy-efficient and eco-friendly?
- Are all facility systems up to date? Do the systems allow us to get the most out of the facility?
- Are the grow room systems up to code? Will they remain compliant with standards for the foreseeable future?
- Is the facility space secure? Is it well insulated and protected from physical security threats?
By addressing these questions and upgrading your facility, you will build a better facility that provides the benefits outlined below.
2. Increased productivity, less downtime
Upgrading equipment is a great way to increase productivity and reduce downtime.
Not interested in upgrading your grow facility equipment because it’s too expensive?
Well consider this – wasted time caused by outdated, inefficient equipment is expensive.
The cost of investing in reliable equipment and the cost of training people to use the new equipment is nothing compared to crop loss and revenue.
Plus, as your business grows, upgrading your equipment puts you in a better position to meet the demands of a bigger operation.
3. Increased efficiency
Similar to productivity, a grow facility upgrade can increase your operation’s efficiency. We all know just how important efficiency is in a grow facility. A lack of it can increase costs and cut into already tight margins.
Consider inefficient grow room lighting and HVAC systems – these two contribute to most of a grow room’s energy consumption. Consequently, overhauling temperature controls and HVAC systems, and replacing fluorescent lighting with LEDs (or other efficient lighting technologies) are two of the common grow facility upgrades.
By upgrading a facility with a more efficient HVAC and/or lighting system, you can cut your operational costs by a significant amount.
Similarly, upgrading a facility and improving things such as its insulation will go a long way in keeping the energy bills down since your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to cool and dehumidify the space.
Increased efficiency will also play a significant role in increasing your facility’s environmental sustainability. As you may already know, the high energy consumption in grow rooms is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting this consumption is important for increasing sustainability.
4. Increased compliance
Compliance is an important factor to consider, particularly if you’re in industries such as cannabis. For example, the state of California is effecting a new energy code in January 2023.
The California Energy Commission is adopting an updated standard to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes and businesses.
According to the Commission, the code is going to focus on:
- Encouraging electric heat pump technology for space and water heating, which consumes less energy and produces fewer emissions than gas-powered units.
- Expanding solar system and battery storage standards to make clean energy available onsite. This will complement the state’s progress toward a 100 percent clean electricity grid.
- Strengthening ventilation standards to improve indoor air quality.
There are other compliance issues to consider as well, from those relating to buildings to those directed at elements such as lighting, water use and HVAC technology.
For instance, green building standards are on the rise. On the other hand, R-22 refrigerant, a chemical component commonly used in many older HVAC systems, is being phased out per a federal mandate.
By upgrading your facility and ensuring that both your building and equipment are up to code, you know that your operation won’t be disrupted by non-compliance.
5. Cost savings
Unlike waiting to do a full facility overhaul, an upgrade maintains the existing facility while focusing on upgrading only those elements that need upgrading. This saves facilities potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in complete facility reconfiguration.
You can schedule retrofits and execute them over time, improving efficiency and cash flow in the process.
Upgrading also benefits tight operating budgets. The upgrading process gives you a chance to identify elements that need upgrading and those whose lives can be extended (i.e. those that don’t require upgrading).
More efficiency. Check.
More cost savings. Check
Put simply, a grow facility upgrade will:
- Help with cost-cutting and reducing complexities (e.g costly, inefficient equipment).
- Make scaling easier and perhaps quicker. By upgrading and removing any complexities, you will be in a better position to scale more efficiently.
- Allow you to take advantage of the best and latest energy solutions and technologies (e.g. replacing that traditional HVAC with a more specialized solution).
- Ultimately help your operation run more efficiently, and as a result, increase profitability and the operation’s sustainability.
That said, there are some things you will need to do to get the most out of your facility upgrade.
Best practices for a grow facility upgrade
When done right, a grow facility upgrade will increase your operation’s profitability and productivity. Notice the three keywords here – when done right.
A grow facility upgrade is an expensive undertaking, both in terms of time and money. The last thing you want is to undertake said upgrade for the sake of unnecessary change or because you just want a shiny new facility.
Here are some best practices to help ensure that your grow facility upgrade is a smart, beneficial move for your entire operation.
Have a plan
Having a plan covers everything from assessing why you want a grow facility upgrade to planning how you’ll implement any new changes.
When it comes to assessing why you want to upgrade your facility you may want to ask questions such as:
- What are we hoping to achieve with a facility upgrade? This question should be supported by specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals.
- What will we need to achieve our goals? Think about your financial, time, as well as human resources needs.
- How long will the upgrade take? For example, this question may help you plan for how long your facility will be out of commission, how long your facility may need to work at reduced capacity, or how long you may have to use another facility altogether.
- What’s a realistic timeframe before we start seeing returns from the upgrade? This will help you determine your ROI on the facility upgrade.
Besides giving you a good understanding of the implications of a facility upgrade on your operation, the planning stage is also great for determining how you’ll implement new changes.
Take equipment for instance. It’s always a good idea to proceed with caution when introducing any new equipment in a grow room. You need to think about the effect any new equipment will have on the health of your plants and other elements in the grow facility.
For example, what will switching from lighting with a lower voltage to one with higher voltage mean for the plants and your HVAC system? Will this move stress the plants and system? If you can’t answer such questions then your upgrade may end up being counterproductive.
When upgrading a facility, being strategic is everything. Starting with a plan is a big part of that strategy.
Determine your budget
Your budget will be a crucial part of your strategy – you need to figure out how much you have to spend on the upgrade.
That way, you can determine the magnitude of your facility upgrade. Will you only be able to upgrade part of the facility? Will you have to prioritize what to upgrade because of limited funds?
These questions will shape up your grow facility upgrade process. And with a budget to guide your spending, you can go ahead and determine what your grow facility upgrade will entail.
Determine what needs upgrading
Not everything in your grow facility will require upgrading. You need to determine what’s working and what could do with some improvement.
A good way to decide on what needs upgrading is to evaluate where problems usually stem from in the facility. For example, if your plants develop mold as they grow, you may need a better system to control the grow environment with more precision.
Similarly, if you notice that your team tends to spend a lot of time controlling environmental elements such as temperature and humidity, then it may be time to consider investing in some grow room controllers to help automate the grow facility.
When it’s time for that grow facility upgrade
So you’re finally ready to take the plunge and start working on that grow facility upgrade?
But do make sure to keep those best practices in mind as you go about your planning.
And one more thing. While upgrading your facility will almost certainly lead to smoother operations, it’s no easy feat.
Don’t be surprised if you find the going getting a bit overwhelming, especially when you’re not shutting down your operation and you have to keep up with ongoing daily operations. Identifying areas that need an upgrade is hard when you’re in the thick of an operation.
If you find yourself needing some assistance don’t hesitate to ask for it. Having professionals on your side means you can concentrate on your core activities (i.e. running the facility) while other people take care of your upgrade. The best part – the right team of professionals will help you identify the areas where upgrades would give you the most benefits including optimized efficiency and reduced costs.