Building an agricultural supply chain is one of the biggest undertakings that any team or leader can take on. The success in establishing an industrial hemp supply chain will set a brand apart from everyone else in the industry.
The nuances and complications of the farming, logistics, processing, and storage of agriculture products supersedes any other type of raw materials supply chain. Unforeseen complications and Acts of God can arise at any part of any agriculture supply chain at any time.
The answer to mitigate this is simple: data.
In a modern world were misinformation runs rampant, the only thing that we can truly rely upon is data. Sales & marketing spins have become so prevalent that empirical data is the only trustworthy source of information. This is why data validation at every step of the process will become the cornerstone of reliable bio-based raw material supply chains.
As the Heartland team begins to lay the framework for data collection, we are deeply focused on Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) refinement.
Collecting data from farmers can be difficult for many reasons. When it comes to buying off the spot market, farmers may have a tendency to embellish their numbers. I mean, who doesn’t lie about their size?
Heartland has created a system that incentivizes farmers to tell the truth because it’s actually in their best interest. When it comes to the bales of hemp that are already sitting on farms, giving our team accurate data is what puts the farmers in a position to get increased yields in future crop cycles.
In future crop cycles, we will be doing contract farming with farmers who are interested in increasing their revenue per acre while doing less work. Although less labor may be required to farm industrial hemp rather than other agricultural products, we are not taking a lackadaisical attitude toward our farming practices.
The Heartland team has been working closely with the farmers who adopted industrial hemp early to better understand SOPs. This has lead us to begin developing a mobile application to help aggregate data on farms in real time. This may include things like:
Collecting valuable data points on the farms we’re working with is foundational to our ability to create a reliable industrial hemp supply chain. With the proper data, we can predictably increase our yield per acre with each new crop cycle.
Heartland’s equipment stack is second to none in the hemp industry. We’re looking forward to creating a replicable process that will allow us to build bio-based raw material supply chains in any city around the world. But, these pieces of equipment are only reliable if we can properly visualize the data that they’re throwing off.
We will use programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) that will automatically pull relevant data points in real time. This is what will allow us to see flow rates, RPM’s, uptime data, and other relevant statistics.
Our team has worked hard to source an equipment stack that is as automated as possible. This type of automation is what will allow us to compete with other bio-based supply chains across the world with lower labor costs. But, now that we’re confident in the automation of our equipment, we need to focus on the automation of actionable data collection. This is where having a reliable data team behind us becomes increasingly important.
The distribution of hemp-based materials is difficult for one main reason: weight. The lightweight nature of hemp is a huge value proposition for end products, but it makes the plant very inefficient to ship. Although the volume of an 18 wheeler may be filled with hemp materials, only a fraction of the total weight is typically used.
In the United States, the maximum loaded weight of an 18 wheeler is 80,000 pounds. Based on the low bulk density of hemp, the 18 wheeler may be using less than ⅓ of the weight capacity even though, by volume, it’s a full truckload.
This is a massive logistics problem that could prevent hemp-based materials from being utilized at scale. Fortunately, we have come up with a solution.
The Heartland team has come up with a proprietary process to pack more hemp into each truckload. This one shift will allow us to ship more hemp in each truckload, reduce our 3rd party logistics costs, and better position us to compete with traditional raw materials.
Storing hemp materials can become a logistical nightmare. Most bio-based materials love moisture, so ambient humidity can become a source of volatility for industrial hemp supply chains.
The industry standard for shipping hemp-based materials is in bales (before they’re processed) and supersacks (after they’re processed). Neither of these shipping formats takes into account the ambient humidity that could be surrounding storage or distribution process at any given time.
Luckily, the Heartland team has come up with a way to ensure a storage process that mitigates moisture content and protects the integrity of our products. This will become crucial for manufacturers who are used to relying on raw materials that have little to no moisture.
When we look at our strategy to execute just-in-time inventory while consistently reducing moisture variables, we are confident in our ability to navigate the nuances of our supply chain.
Why We Believe This Is Important
We are focused on data collection at every step of our supply chain because this is what creates reliability. In order for us to give manufacturers the certainty that our materials will do what we say they will, we need to collect the data to back up our assertions.
This is why we talk about bio continuity being the backbone of reliable agricultural supply chains. Creating raw materials that have the same size, moisture content, and surface area is what will allow us to work with the largest companies in the world.
We want to ensure the manufacturing leaders who work with us that the first pound will look the exact same as the 100,000,000th pound.
A lack of continuity and supply in agricultural raw materials is what has previously prevented manufacturers from switching over from mined and petroleum-based materials. Heartland’s industrial hemp supply chain is allowing manufacturers to step beyond R&D and into product development with mass market implications.
We are working with farmers, universities, and industrial engineers to ensure that we are collecting all the right data at every step of our supply chain.
All of this data will be visualized with a business intelligence and analytics software so that our supply chain can be managed from one dashboard. All modern supply chains should be able to be managed from a device with an internet connection. Heartland is determined to create a data platform that matches the capabilities of the largest material suppliers on the planet.
Join us as we build a world out of hemp.
— Heartland Team