Kelly Knutson, Founder & CTO
The winds of change are blowing on cannabis legalization in many countries. With the reforms, a flourishing cannabis industry has sprung up, which includes businesses developing cannabis-based therapeutic, recreational, and byproducts. However, even as more and more companies venture into the cannabis marketplace, most cannabis producers, unfortunately, have failed to uncover a highly efficient extraction technology that can help simplify the manufacturing process.
While working in the medical cannabis industry, Kelly Knutson spotted a growing opportunity to bridge the gap in the extraction space regardless of the fact that the cannabis industry was still in its infancy at that time. With a flair for design and manufacturing, he took on the task of developing a system that allows cannabis producers to operate efficiently with profitability as the key goal. Isolate Extraction Systems (IES) today stands tall as one of the world’s leading supplier of botanical extraction equipment. “We morphed the system to include more and more automation, integration and process control, with the key focus of reducing the cost of ownership, mostly around labor and improving throughput and speed,” says Knutson, founder and CTO of IES.
IES’s extraction equipment extracts oils and active ingredients from nearly any biomass utilizing liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide as a solvent. The company ensures a quick and efficient extraction process by designing systems that enable the client to operate the machine without assistance. Knutson highlights the IES systems’ automation that enables customers to precisely control parameters like pressure, runtime, and temperature based on the biomass that is fed into the system. “From there, the machine will run its course from charging the system up with pressure, circulate co2 solvent for the adequate amount of time, and then recovering the gas, which is an added value to everybody,” explains Knutson.
A Client-Centric Approach to Service Delivery
The company offers a variety of botanical extraction systems in various sizes to meet any client’s goal and scale. Clients require flexibility to extract a variety of products, such as cannabis, hemp, nuts, citrus, or other popular oils, and IES is devoted to implementing a system that will suit their needs. Adding into the bargain, the company works diligently to find the optimal solution for each project by first understanding the client’s.
objectives and evaluating which system would best suit their present and potential processing requirements. As an ISO-certified manufacturing facility, IES has stringent process and documentation controls on the manufacturing, testing, sales, and delivery processes to ensure compliance and assure the best customer experience. “We pride ourselves in making sure that our customers are having as much uptime as possible, which ties into our service system,” states Knutson. The service team works closely with the project management team to ensure the systems are up and running with the least possible downtime. The company also has in place a strategic stocking program of key components for clients in remote locations that are out of reach of rapid service. “We also do training protocols to ensure that they know how to replace those systems and also identify if it is a faulty system component that needs to be replaced,” adds Knutson.
Knutson recalls a client who had difficulties with CO2 supply as well as some preprocessing that was necessary to achieve maximum output due to bottlenecks that weren’t necessarily related to the machine. The team helped them tailor the machine’s process to accommodate the constraints that the customer had within their business. Knutson goes on to say that typically, the IES team walks into a customer’s facility and performs a deep diagnostic on the system to determine why the customer’s yield is declining and works with them to identify areas of improvement to increase the throughput on their whole operation.
We morphed the system to include more and more automation, integration and process control, with the key focus of reducing the cost of ownership, mostly around labor and improving throughput and speed
The company takes a hands-on approach all the way from sales through the lifecycle of the system to ensure their clients get the system required to obtain the required output while also meeting their timeline. To this end, IES offers refurbishing and a trade-in program. Customers can not only purchase high-end supercritical CO2 extraction systems from the company, but they can also get refurbished systems at a reduced price if they are starting small or have budgetary constraints. Eventually, when the business grows, they can trade that in for a newer model. With the Trade-In Program, even customers who do not own an IES machine can trade in that system for an IES system that will get them running with higher throughput, resolution, and a more reliable system.
With a long-term objective of worldwide expansion, the company aspires to serve consumers in a diverse market. With a track record of selling hundreds of systems in the US, IES is now venturing into the European market. Moving forward, IES hopes to produce all commercial systems from the new manufacturing facility in upstate New York, which is currently in the works.
IES is currently working on a new model that will be launched by the end of the year and would be a universal plug-and-play model that can be easily installed anywhere in the world regardless of voltage. Alongside, the company will be releasing add-ons to the machine, which will allow the creation of more boutique goods while also reducing the amount of post-processing labor necessary for specific products, such as fractional and removal of heavy fats and waxes.
According to Knutson, the firm is dedicated to the success of all clients, and one of the company’s primary goals is to reduce customer costs and lead times. As part of the cost-cutting strategy, the company intends to maintain the same pricing for all of its products independent of inflation or market fluctuations. “We want to provide high-end models at the best possible price, which is exactly what we are doing now and will continue to do in the future,” concludes Knutson.