Insights & News

Insights & News

February 18, 2020

KeyLeaf’s LEAN Certification – What It Means

Commentary from Darryl Minty, KeyLeaf’s Director of Global Business Process   Last year, after years of hard work, dedication, and continuous improvement, KeyLeaf was awarded LEAN Certification by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), becoming one of only three companies in Saskatchewan to achieve that distinction. KeyLeaf started on its LEAN Certification program in 2014 as…

Commentary from Darryl Minty, KeyLeaf’s Director of Global Business Process

 

Last year, after years of hard work, dedication, and continuous improvement, KeyLeaf was awarded LEAN Certification by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), becoming one of only three companies in Saskatchewan to achieve that distinction.

KeyLeaf started on its LEAN Certification program in 2014 as part of a complete business transformation focusing on continuous improvement and customer value.  Lean production is founded on the idea of kaizen – or continual improvement. This philosophy implies that small, incremental changes routinely applied and sustained over a long period result in significant improvements. The kaizen strategy aims to involve workers from multiple functions and levels in the organization to work together to address a problem or improve a process. The team uses analytical techniques to identify opportunities to eliminate waste in a targeted process or production area. The team then rapidly works to implement chosen improvements, often within 72 hours of initiating the kaizen event, typically focusing on solutions that do not involve large capital outlays. 1

 

Darryl Minty, KeyLeaf’s Director of Global Business Process, comments on how KeyLeaf became involved with the LEAN Certification program and how the company has benefited from the LEAN production principles:

 

KeyLeaf has been on our LEAN journey for about a decade.  When we started our journey, we hired a consultant to do an assessment.  After spending a few days with us, he gave us his report.  Two of his comments were: ‘I wouldn’t want to work here’, and ‘I wouldn’t want to do business with you.’ That was a kick in the pants that told us maybe we need to take a hard look at what we’re doing and how we were doing it. Around the same time, we started working with Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. They have divisions across Canada, and we became a member with CME Saskatchewan. CME was there to help coach us and mentor us as opposed to just tell us what to do. One of the key elements we took away from them was our LEAN training. 

 

Currently, we have almost 100 percent of our staff on-site trained at the LEAN 101 level, which consists of a one-day introductory session giving a basic understanding of the LEAN tools and methodology.  At KeyLeaf we teach and use the traditional LEAN process which is basically an adaptation of the Toyota Production System, which is where many of the LEAN principles came from.

 

Above the LEAN 101 level, KeyLeaf has 12 employees trained at the Yellow Belt level, where they receive instruction on all 24 of the LEAN Tools and Methodologies.  Above yellow we have eight employees trained at the Green Belt Level, where they learn to become “senseis” qualified to instruct and mentor other employees on the LEAN program.  Above Green Belt, we have two employees trained at the Black Belt level, which uses advanced tools and methodologies focusing more on systems and less on processes. We also have one Master Black Belt on site.

 

As part of Black Belt training, we do a one-week benchmarking mission to Japan where we visit best-in-class companies: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Yamaha for example. In order to be “world-class” its beneficial to go and see first-hand what world-class looks like. World-class examples of lean are literally evident everywhere you go in Japan from airports, “the bullet train” to grocery stores. Aside from seeing world-class companies you experience the Japanese culture which is the epitome of respect. 

 

There are many internal improvements we can point to resulting from LEAN.  One of which is we’ve created a much safer and more efficient work environment; we have far better and safer ergonomics. People are less frustrated because they’re not running around looking for the right tools and materials. Things are where they need to be when they need them.

 

Secondly, we have a much more responsive, adaptive and agile workforce. There were many instances where we never knew what the customer was going to walk through the door nor what project they were going to throw at us. LEAN taught us a lot about how to break down a process and focus on what offered true customer value in doing so offer a much better customer experience.

 

The LEAN methodology has helped us create a much more usable workspace and facility. Where, in our labs and shop and virtually everywhere you looked, we once had clutter and unneeded items, we now have clean, productive spaces.  We have what we need where we need it and when we need it.

 

We’ve also created a culture where people have been empowered to become brilliant problem solvers — problem solvers capable of much more than merely identifying the problem.  They can break it down to understand the root cause and apply suitable controls, so we eliminate the problem altogether.

 

Once you become LEAN certified as an organization, it’s really the best way of doing business.  We don’t have to spend a whole lot of time thinking about what do and how to do it — it’s ingrained.  If you went to Toyota and asked them about their LEAN program, they would not know what you were talking about. It’s just the way they do business. Eliminate waste while continually trying to add value to the customer. They’re there to do their jobs, but they’re also there to think and improve things on an ongoing basis.  And that’s what we try to do. Just be better today than we were yesterday!

 

(1) https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/lean-thinking-and-methods-kaizen

January 12, 2020

2019 MJBizCon Takeaways

Here are three of the many takeaways from the recent conference on Cannabis held at the Las Vegas Convention Center during MJBizCon Week, December 11-13.  The event drew marketers, business development specialists, scientists, and production personnel from all sectors of the hemp supply chain to learn and share technologies and strategies for success in the…

Here are three of the many takeaways from the recent conference on Cannabis held at the Las Vegas Convention Center during MJBizCon Week, December 11-13.  The event drew marketers, business development specialists, scientists, and production personnel from all sectors of the hemp supply chain to learn and share technologies and strategies for success in the fast-moving cannabis/hemp industry. Naturally, KeyLeaf was there!

1. Edibles – the challenge of quality control

            Formulation and quality control of CBD oil are now being routinely achieved by companies in the CBD/hemp space, but formulating for CBD-infused edibles – gummies, chocolates, etc. – presents a new and different set of challenges for manufacturers. Such factors as taste and stability – not only the chemical stability of the CBD but the functional stability of the edible product so that it retains its color, and texture — are specialty areas that many companies are currently seeking solutions for.  And how do manufacturers analyze the CBD content in their gummies to ensure its accuracy?  To bolster quality control, rapid analysis systems have now been developed for accurately measuring CBD content in a variety of novel matrixes, from candy to dog treats.  This confirms that the industry is going to continue to evolve, while evolving new technology along with it.

 

  1. Be Nimble

As an industry, we’re far from knowing all the answers about processing in all the new markets, so processors need diversity; they need to be “nimble” and react quickly.  They need to maintain a diverse area of expertise shared amongst multifunctional teams that can move very quickly when opportunities arise in the marketplace.  For example, if a company identifies an opportunity for a bakery-based ingredient, it needs to quickly develop and validate the product.  Being nimble means that companies have a team that can set up quickly to develop a wide range of products for the marketplace.  The ability to react quickly to opportunities in the rapidly emerging CBD/hemp sector with quality products can mean the difference between success and failure of a product line, start-up, or entire company.

 

  1. What Lies Ahead for the Hemp/CBD industry? Unlimited growth.

While there is currently some confusion and many unanswered questions, the hemp industry is continuing to grow and is destined to make a significant impact both in the economy and in the health and wellness sectors in the next decade and beyond.  In some cases, it may be seen as a pharmaceutical, but it’s also seen as a dietary supplement, and when you look at the whole plant, hemp has application as a functional food. There are also many ingredients that we know promote health and wellness that can be blended with hemp ingredients to obtain a synergistic effect on health.  The embracing of hemp and hemp compounds by consumers in the marketplace signifies that we’re living in very exciting times, not just for the hemp industry, but for the natural health and wellness fields as well.

November 22, 2019

Ask Dr. Green: Beyond CBD Part Two

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences   (PART 2 OF 2)   QUESTION: You mentioned that hemp protein has some unique properties that other plant proteins don’t have.  What are some of those properties? GREEN: A big benefit to working with hemp protein is that when…

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green

President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences

 

(PART 2 OF 2)

 

QUESTION: You mentioned that hemp protein has some unique properties that other plant proteins don’t have.  What are some of those properties?

GREEN: A big benefit to working with hemp protein is that when effectively processed, it has a better flavor than some of the other plant-based proteins. It also has some functionality properties that are unique, and those properties depend on how you process the protein and the protein fractions. We’ve also found that hemp protein has some good emulsification properties, and there are many products that can be produced from natural emulsions.

 

QUESTION:  Is there anything else about hemp protein that’s unique?

GREEN: I would say hemp protein is as nutritious as any other plant protein. Hemp seeds contain approximately 30% protein, with a reasonably complete amino acid spectrum. About two thirds of hempseed protein is edestin, a highly digestible protein. All eight amino acids essential in the human diet are present, as well as others.  Hemp protein has some amino acid profiles that can be used to complement other plant proteins.  By blending it with other plant proteins you can balance the amino acid ratios and increase the nutritional value of the protein blend.

 

QUESTION:  What are the properties and uses of hemp oil?

GREEN: Hemp oil, which is found in the plant’s seeds, has a good omega 6 /omega 3 ratio of 3 to 1, about what is optimal for the human body. Hemp oil is of high nutritional quality because it contains good amounts of unsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid (10%–16%), linoleic acid (50%–60%), alpha-linolenic acid (20%–25%), and gamma-linolenic acid (2%–5%) Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are considered essential to human health. Hemp seed oil also provides several antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, along with iron and zinc.

 

QUESTION: Are there uses for the oil aside from nutritional?

GREEN: Hemp oil is used in cosmetics and skin creams to promote skin health. It’s well known that hemp seed oil is a healthy oil and one of the oils that can provide some benefits for the complexion — soothing and moisturizing it.  Hemp oil is used in some cosmetic products now, but there are more to be developed as formulators become familiar with the unique properties of hemp protein and hemp oil.

 

QUESTION:  How much oil does the hemp seed contain?

GREEN: Up to 30 percent of the hemp seed is comprised of oil.

 

QUESTION: What other nutrients do we find in the hemp plant that can be extracted and monetized?

GREEN: After extracting the CBD, I believe the plant’s main asset will be the fiber from the hemp stalk. This is a very strong yet light fiber that holds significant potential for industrial applications. The industrial fiber is going to become more important as we move away from plastics to more natural solutions. There are companies right now that supplement their plastic with hemp fiber to give it strength and some biodegradability.  Some automotive companies have also produced prototypes of interior panels with hemp fiber.

 

QUESTION:  Does hemp have value as animal feed?

GREEN: At the moment hemp meal is undergoing testing for its suitability as feed for livestock as well as animals and pets that are not part of the food chain. Hemp certainly holds strong potential as a nutritious ingredient for animal feed.

 

QUESTION:  Is KeyLeaf involved in the extraction of hemp oil for industrial uses?

GREEN: We are primarily focused on hemp oil for nutritional purposes. We have also pressed hemp for industrial purposes, like machine oil and other non-food grade oils.  These industrial prototype oils have good flow properties and can be modified slightly for specific purposes; different viscosity for different uses.

 

QUESTION:  What other parts of the hemp plant can be profitably harvested?

DR. GREEN: The cannabinoids represent a very small percentage of the plant, so finding and monetizing additional high-value products is very advantageous for any hemp processor.  We currently have uses for virtually every part of the plant — the stalks for industrial fiber, the flowers for extraction of cannabinoids, and the seeds for protein, oil and edible fiber. With more than 25,000 hemp-based products reportedly in the marketplace, agribusiness will continue moving forward with hemp R & D programs to discover even more uses for the plant and its hundreds of high-value components.