elevateNV
Jun 26 2018 . 4 min read
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Innovation with KB Labs

Innovation with KB Labs

Come along as Mike and Bo of KB Labs take Growers Network on a ride in their sweet mobile laboratory and discuss the incredible design that goes into making a fully functional lab on wheels.

Come along as Mike and Bo of KB Labs take Growers Network on a ride in their sweet mobile laboratory and discuss the incredible design that goes into making a fully functional lab on wheels.

What was the inspiration behind a mobile laboratory?

The concept originated when we put ourselves in the growers’ shoes. We asked what the most frustrating experience was for growers when using laboratory testing. Here’s some of the biggest complaints we heard:

  • Waiting for results meant stock value slowly depreciated.
  • Feeling like samples for testing went into a magic black box and results were unpredictable.
  • All the legal concerns associated with shipping samples.
  • Potential human error from samples getting mixed with other growers’ samples.

The logical solution to these problems was a mobile laboratory. So, we took the idea and introduced it to Shimadzu. At first, they were skeptical, but after nearly a year building our prototype, it’s hard to be prouder of the results. Shimadzu regularly sends their representatives to learn about the vehicle.

Now, we can park our van in front of a greenhouse and basically become an extension of the client’s business, while still being an independent, third-party testing service. Clients don’t have to ship their samples, they can ask questions of our techs and learn about the testing services and requirements, and they get same-day results.

What makes the mobile lab unique?

We’re the first and only mobile analytical lab in Arizona, as far as we know. We can go to a client’s business and do the testing on-site and get same-day results for them. We can do analysis on every test currently required by Nevada law, including:

  • Potency (cannabinoids)
  • Terpenes
  • Residual Solvents
  • Pesticides - both fungicides and insecticides
  • Microbiological plating screens

We can show every client where the specimens are going, and we only ever use samples from the client’s grow. It’s the difference between getting a suit made by a tailor or buying one off the rack. We’re the tailor.

What kind of concerns would a truly mobile lab have?

Great question, so a few things are concerns:

  1. Physical size of the lab
  2. Technical constraints of the lab
  3. Insurance for the vehicle

Physical Space and Technical Constraints

Two machines are going to be required for laboratory testing regardless of what we do (HPLC and GC-MS). So, we designed the interior of the lab around these two machines, and then expanded outwards. Some included in the van were:

  • Space for two lab technicians to work.
  • Fume hoods. We don’t want our technicians to accidentally be hotboxing.
  • Microbiological screening equipment for full service.
  • Air conditioning and a generator for off-the-grid clients.
  • Standard laboratory equipment, such as centrifuges and fridges/freezers.

Insurance

Because we invested over $1 million into this van, we don’t want to lose our investment in a collision or accident. This is a niche market, so we used a service like Lloyd’s of London to underwrite the insurance for the van. The premium is a bit heftier than it might otherwise be for a normal item, but we expect our premium to gradually diminish.

What has been the reception for the mobile lab?

We’re one of the first to market with this concept. We’ve repeatedly heard the phrase that it’s a “game-changer,” and many have requested show-and-tells with us to see the unit. The overall response we’ve gotten is quite impressive. We’re picking up more and more clients as people try out the service.

What advantages might a mail-in lab have over a mobile lab?

The only advantage a mail-in lab might have over us is in the pricing department, and even than that difference isn’t too significant. Most growers worry more about the lost profits of sitting on their stock than the amount they pay for a laboratory testing. The only time a producer might not have this concern is if they are an edibles producer, because their stock tends to be significantly more shelf-stable. They don’t gain any advantage from same-day results if their stock doesn’t depreciate nearly as quickly as raw flower or extracts.


This article has been paraphrased with permission from Growers Network. Head on over to Growers Network to read the full article

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