By Laleh Khodaparast
Since its inception seven years ago, MediPharm Labs has produced pharmaceutical quality oils and concentrates from cannabis. These purified extracts are sold globally and have allowed MediPharm Labs to expand beyond Canada to places like Australia.
MediPharm Labs has pursued sustainable growth by achieving certification as a Good Manufacturing Practices facility to reach these heights. Its commitment to quality includes ISO standard clean rooms, and the company has adopted technology and in-depth research to pursue innovation within its industry.
The Power of Data
The rise of big data and global movements toward digitization through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology and initiatives such as Industry 4.0 have ushered in new paradigms for many industries. Between 2018 and 2026, it’s predicted that big data will have grown from USD 3.22 billion to USD 9.11 billion within the manufacturing sector alone.
With such impressive adoption rates, manufacturing companies must look for ways to leverage big data to improve R&D projects and develop new avenues for innovation. And it was that pursuit of how data could be used to improve processes and methods in its manufacturing facilities that led MediPharm Labs to engage the capabilities of Georgian College. The resulting project would help them better understand the data about their product and uncover what insights were available for process improvement.
To become a data-driven manufacturing company, MediPharm Labs first had to understand its products better. While on the rise, the cannabis industry is still relatively new compared to traditional manufacturing. As such, they needed deeper data on the content and potency of extraction yields of CBD and THC from raw cannabinoid material and cannabis flower inputs.
By drilling into the data, the goal was to create a relational database that could deliver insights and empower predictive and prescriptive decision-making for all phases of MediPharm Labs’ production. This included upstream processes such as milling through midstream extraction and filtration and solvent removal to end products.
The Research and Innovation department at Georgian College was ideally suited to assist MediPharm Labs with this project. Through a Research and Innovation Collaboration Agreement, MediPharm Labs and Georgian College created a four-month applied research project to deliver data and analytics insights.
Using resources from MediPharm Lab, faculty researchers and students assembled the databases required to develop a proof of concept to help visualize extraction efficacy. The participants established key performance indicators using statistical methodology.
They also developed prototype dashboards with management tools to improve the response and accuracy of decisions. With these new capabilities, MediPharm Labs’ R&D and management group could hone processes, zero in on improvement opportunities, and do so with a much deeper understanding of how their decisions impacted quality and cost.
By creating protocols, databases, and dashboards for better data collection with a limited data set, the Georgian College team was able to validate proof of concept for the next step in the process. Those next steps will entail delivering a system that is interoperable with MediPharm Labs’ recently implemented SAP ERP system. Designed explicitly for data-driven decision-making, this will further enhance the power and impact of the project.
Innovating for Tomorrow
Georgian College's Competitive Smart Manufacturing applied research and development program was designed for cases like MediPharm Labs. The Centre supports the Industry 4.0 and IoT initiatives of companies with programs such as this. Its Big Data Analytics program is an excellent resource for companies looking to dig deeper into data to drive innovation and R&D.
Through programs such as these, the Research and Innovation department at Georgian College can assist with a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurial projects. These include design, manufacturing, integration, testing, analysis, process optimization, and more. The program is community-focused with access to mentorship, R&D, advanced data analytics, and more. And, these services are available to students, businesses, and faculty through the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC).
Georgian College continues to lead within the entrepreneurial world from inception through production and now into Industry 4.0, big data, and beyond to drive innovation and research in business and provide guidance and resources. To find out how to leverage your company's deep data in your manufacturing operation and unlock new avenues for growth, contact us today.