Equipment developer for hemp industry quietly ramps up in Harrisburg

July 8, 2019

From a nondescript industrial area at the Harrisburg exit for Interstate 29, Hemp Processing Solutions has been quietly at work carving a niche for itself developing machines for the rapidly growing hemp industry.

Founded in May 2018, the business has created two machines designed to help farmer-growers and processors improve their processing capabilities.

The BioMaster allows manufacturers and processing facilities to gain significant control over upstream processes by producing consistent particle size of high-value biomass, the company said. It’s capable of handling 2,000 pounds an hour.

The BudRubber, which was officially released today, is designed for farmer-growers and processors looking to improve the separation process of plant biomass material.

“Historically, growers have been forced to rely on manual labor to shuck the plant material. This involved massive amounts of human labor, which was both unreliable and time-consuming, not to mention expensive,” said Reid Vander Veen, director of marketing for Hemp Processing Solutions.

“The average laborer could expect to separate 200 to 300 pounds per day. In that same amount of time, BudRubber can separate 25 tons of plant material. We’re talking about a revolution in hemp processing at an industrial scale.”

There are five primary parts to a hemp plant, and each is experiencing rapid growth in value, he said. In order for farmers to extract the highest possible value from the plant, it must be separated into the various components.

The BudRubber is being promoted as the first step in that process, taking a time-consuming manual shucking process and replacing it with the machine, which can handle more than 5,000 pounds an hour and separate the biomass at rates the company says have never been seen.

“Farmers across the country are exploring the industrial hemp space. As the markets develop, demand grows, and legislation loosens restrictions, we’re going to see large-scale operations pop up all over the map,” Vander Veen said. “And we intend to have harvesting and processing solutions ready.”

The company has about a half-dozen full-time employees and some contracted help, although it’s in the process of hiring others, he said.

“Our team is made of engineers, sales and operations, and we have strategic relationships with various local companies who help source parts and build our equipment.”

The CEO is Alex Pearson, who also is president of operations at Harrisburg area-based RMS Roller Grinder. The general manager is Blake Sandnes. Both are based in the Harrisburg area, where Hemp Processing Solutions is located at 27271 Ironworks Ave.

The company processes and tests its plant material in Colorado because South Dakota law precludes it. Vander Veen said.

He said the business would like to move its R&D center into South Dakota and is working with state government officials to try to change the law next year. Industrial hemp and its derivatives remained illegal in the state this year after Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a bill that would have legalized it.

Nebraska passed legislation this year, and Iowa and Minnesota are making advancements, he said. His company has been attempting to educate about the difference between hemp and marijuana, which has created confusion, he said.

“What we’re dealing with in the hemp space has little to no THC, the part of marijuana that causes a psychedelic reaction in users.”

The overall market is growing fast, though, he said, fed by demand for products like CBD oil, clothing, fuel and building materials.

So far, Hemp Processing Solutions’ customers have been farmer-growers or have come from the oil extraction business. The company also is seeing interest from co-op groups and the textile space, Vander Veen said.

“However, all of them have at least one thing in common. They’ve seen the viability of the industry and are looking for ways to scale up their operations,” he said. “One thing worth noting is the age of the farmers who are showing interest. We’re seeing a lot of interest from younger farmers, the trend toward early adopters. At the same time, we’re also seeing interest from older farmers who are being choked by poor commodity prices and are seeking ways to continue running a profitable family farm operation.”

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Equipment developer for hemp industry quietly ramps up in Harrisburg

From a nondescript industrial area on the far west side of Harrisburg, Hemp Processing Solutions has been quietly at work carving a niche for itself developing machines for the rapidly growing hemp industry.

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