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AMT Tech Trends: Paint the Robot Red

Episode 109: In this holiday episode of the TechTrends podcast, Ramia Lloyd, Elissa Davis, Benjamin Moses, and Stephen LaMarca share their individual families holiday traditions.
Dec 26, 2023

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Ramia Lloyd: Welcome to the Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. Today's episode is sponsored by IMTS+. I'm Ramia Lloyd, and I'm here with?

Elissa Davis: Elissa Davis.

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca.

Benjamin Moses: Benjamin Moses, the anchor. The good anchor.

Ramia Lloyd: I love that actually.

Benjamin Moses: Guys, let's talk about end-of-year holidays. We're at the end of the year. There's tons of holidays, whatever you guys practice or do or believe in, doesn't matter, there's a tradition involved. My tradition is, actually we've had a bunch of varying traditions throughout the year, but in the end we still see my parents and my in-laws, they're close by. Generally we'll go to my in-laws Christmas Eve, have a great time, eat dinner there, and then go to my parents house for lunch. This year, my sister's actually hosting at their place kind of close by.

It's fun because it's a new experience every single time. Every time we go to my parents' house or in-laws house, they haven't moved. My parents have been in the same place since I was in eighth grade. Been there for a long time. But every time we go back it's like a new experience. Either they've done something new, they invite someone new, or my sister's kids have some new toys that's just making a mess everywhere or some kid throws up.

Ramia Lloyd: That sounds about right.

Benjamin Moses: Just a fun, interesting time. And same with my in-laws that we go on Christmas Eve. It's great to get traditional Indian food that time of the year because it's cold, so we get something that's spicy and hot. And we just hang out until it gets dark. That's the other thing I don't like is driving back when it's dark.

Ramia Lloyd: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: But that's fine. How about you, Ramia? What are we doing?

Ramia Lloyd: So we have one tradition that stays since I was maybe 10, and my mom does chicken and waffles.

Benjamin Moses: Chicken and waffles? Nice.

Ramia Lloyd: Every Christmas morning, that's our breakfast. And then we don't eat again until 6:00 p.m.

Elissa Davis: That's wonderful.

Ramia Lloyd: We eat homemade fried chicken, homemade waffles. We're killing it. The last two years we've been doing Christmas vacations, so last year we went on a cruise. This year we're going on a cruise, so we're-

Benjamin Moses: That's something new.

Ramia Lloyd: Cruising to the Caribbean for Christmas and I'm thriving.

Benjamin Moses: That's amazing.

Elissa Davis: Nice and warm.

Ramia Lloyd: I'm so excited. Yeah. What about you Elissa? What do you got?

Elissa Davis: Well, so my family... I lived in Japan for four years growing up when my dad was in language school when he was in the military. And in Japan, back in, I think it was the 70s when KFC came to Japan, they did a massive campaign to get people to buy KFC on Christmas Eve because their ovens are not big enough for American-sized turkeys. Right?

Benjamin Moses: Of course.

Elissa Davis: Maybe a small ham. That's as good as you're going to get. And so they started a campaign being like, "Hey, order KFC." I just want to say this side note, KFC is much better in Japan than it is in America. No offense KFC in America, but they have tempura fried chicken tenders and they're so good.

Benjamin Moses: The crust is nice.

Elissa Davis: So you have to order your KFC months in advance at least six months. And that's not the case here, although it is hopping at KFC on a Christmas Eve in the US. I will say.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Elissa Davis: There was one year when I lived in Colorado where they ran out of my mom's... My mom bought the chicken through GrubHub and then they ended up selling it to someone else. My mom, I have never seen her that angry because this is something we've done for 20 some years and she was so angry. So we got Chick-fil-A that year. She was not... Now she's like, "Okay, well whatever. If something happens, we'll just get Chick-fil-A." So that's in our back pocket, but it's almost always KFC every single Christmas Eve. And then we all open one gift. And then my mom has started doing, in the mornings she does brioche French toast. Yeah, she makes amazing French toast. Her batter is perfect. So yeah, the holidays, I mean they're about gifts and giving and stuff like that, but we definitely have kind of built it around food.

Stephen LaMarca: Same. The food is pivotal for a good holiday.

Elissa Davis: Yes, yes.

Stephen LaMarca: We definitely need to compare notes on sides and toppings for [inaudible 00:03:52].

Elissa Davis: Yes.

Stephen LaMarca: And I do feel like an experience everyone should go through is a fast food holiday. So Popeyes offers deep fried turkey, but getting to the end of your holidays, I feel like everyone should experience what is it like to order food or if you watch a Christmas story, if you're going to a Chinese restaurant trying to get duck with dogs running through the restaurant, I feel like that's a new experience everyone should have in their life.

Elissa Davis: I completely agree because especially if you're international.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah, definitely.

Elissa Davis: Because fast food's going to be better international than it is going to be in the US. No offense to any US fast food restaurants, but it's just a known fact. [inaudible 00:04:32]. What about you, Steve?

Stephen LaMarca: So I was struggling. I think of some family holiday traditions and my family didn't really have too many growing up other than my mom and her sister. My aunt would go back and forth between which one would host the entire family in the immediate area for Thanksgiving and and which one would do Christmas and they'd alternate it. But now my mom lives in a condo now, and my aunt lives all the way out in Percival. It's like an hour and a half from here and on a truffle farm. So now that Melissa and I have a house, we bought a house this year and it's actually clean because we're adults now in 2023, we're actually thinking... We have told people that we're going to host the family's... Christmas dinner is going to be at my house this year, which is crazy.

Benjamin Moses: Are you scared?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, because I'm not ready to be an adult. This is an adult thing, but now that I think about it, Melissa has a holiday traditional dish that she got passed down from her mom that they just call an egg dish. It's a breakfast thing, it's like a breakfast casserole that you put on the bottom hash browns, and then you put some breakfast sausage or even Italian sausage and then peppers, onions.

Elissa Davis: It's like seven layer dip of [inaudible 00:06:19].

Stephen LaMarca: And you just cover it in a big layer of cheese and bake it and let it get gooey and just a little browned on the bottom and you just slice into it. And that's the holiday breakfast. They just call it egg dish.

Elissa Davis: I feel like Christmas day breakfast is something that people don't talk about enough.

Stephen LaMarca: That's true.

Elissa Davis: Growing up, we always did something big for Christmas breakfast, even if it was just my mom making pancakes instead of having waffles like Bisquick pancakes. It was more of a production because it's a special day.

Stephen LaMarca: Growing up, my dad was the cook in the household, so all of the meals came from him. My mom's a good cook too, but Christmas morning, this is actually true, it's just been so long. The Christmas breakfast, he would always make eggs benedict from scratch. I mean with exception to the English muffins. But he took pride in the poached eggs.

Elissa Davis: Yeah. That's not an easy breakfast.

Stephen LaMarca: And the Hollandaise sauce was his baby.

Elissa Davis: Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: He would wake up so early. Just to slave over that sauce. Yeah, that was, there you go.

Elissa Davis: Do you guys do breakfast before or after presents?

Stephen LaMarca: It's hit or miss.

Elissa Davis: Ours is after.

Benjamin Moses: It was how good I was at lobbying that year.

Stephen LaMarca: My parents definitely pushed us till opening gifts till after dinner. It was a long day.

Elissa Davis: I would be chomping at the bits [inaudible 00:08:09]. I would be absolutely a nightmare if my parents had made us wait until after dinner. I would've been like, I'm leaving this family.

Benjamin Moses: When my sister and I were started getting older, my dad, my mom and dad, both progressive Catholics, progressive Roman Catholics to get us to go to midnight mass. It'd be like, "If you come to midnight mass when we get home, you open one present." I'm in.

Elissa Davis: That's all you had to say.

Benjamin Moses: Give me a cup of coffee.

Stephen LaMarca: Nowadays, we have been opening gifts on Christmas Eve too.

Elissa Davis: Okay. Yeah. We do one gift on Christmas Eve and then everything the next morning. And it's funny because my mom still makes the younger kids go upstairs. My youngest sister is 17, turning 18 in a few months, but she still makes them all go upstairs and go to bed before she stuffs the stockings. And sorry if any children are watching this, but she even still writes some presents are from Santa and we've all been out of the Santa thing for many years, but it's for her just as much as it is for us. But my mom's birthday is two days after Christmas, so Christmas is big every year. Even when she was like, "Christmas is going to be smaller this year," because you didn't have as much money. It was still huge compared to other people's Christmases. She goes all out. But we definitely do breakfast after. We all get up. Although now the best part about having my younger siblings being older is that we all sleep until at least like nine o'clock.

Stephen LaMarca: Nice.

Elissa Davis: And then we just kind of meander out bed and open the presents, have some brunch.

Benjamin Moses: Always before seven until probably 28.

Ramia Lloyd: Even at my big age of 27, I'm up at six and I'm knocking on doors. I'm get up, coffee's already running. You have no excuse. Lets go.

Benjamin Moses: I'm expecting something.

Elissa Davis: Right.

Benjamin Moses: Let's go.

Ramia Lloyd: I saw you. We saw each other last night at the stocking. Let's go. Yeah.

Elissa Davis: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Awesome. Yeah. And that's one of the things I shattered Amelia's dream of is I told her early, there's no Santa Claus. I want credit for these gifts. I'll be blunt. Amelia, I gave [inaudible 00:10:12].

Ramia Lloyd: I don't care who it is, it's me.

Elissa Davis: I don't blame you. I knew Santa wasn't real for a long time, but I was one of those kids who held onto it. "No, he's real." And they're like, at one point when I was 12, my parents had to sit me down and be like, "You need to stop telling people Santa's real. It's us." And I cried. I was like, "Fine." I was a very whimsical child.

Benjamin Moses: Did you ever do something really bad growing up? Before you found out that Santa wasn't real and you did something really bad and you were just on a guilt... you felt guilty for a month straight and you're like, "I'm going to get coal this year," and your parents finally, "What is wrong?" "I'm getting coal this year because of what I did."

Elissa Davis: Stephen. I think that's more of a Catholic guilt thing. Yeah, I get it.

Stephen LaMarca: All right, Ramia, tell us about today's sponsor.

Ramia Lloyd: Today's sponsor is IMTS+ manufacturing digital content to get you ready for IMTS. And after we use videos and articles on topics relevant to manufacturing technologies in the business of manufacturing. I guarantee you'll find something you like.

Stephen LaMarca: Thanks, Ramia.

Ramia Lloyd: Thanks, guys.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, tell me about paint, money manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. So I saw an investment thing that I don't really know investment stuff, but I saw that Lucid, the electric car company that's supposed to be the Rolls Royce of Tesla, which Teslas are already really nice, but Lucid's supposed to be really, really nice above a few tiers maybe above Tesla. Lucid is being removed from the NASDAQ 100 index. Well, what is the NASDAQ 100 index? And I think it's like an ETF or EFT, I don't know, man. [inaudible 00:12:02]. Anyway, the NASDAQ 100 index is the NASDAQ's predicted top 100 most successful upcoming companies or whatever, something like that. And they've been removed from it. And I can't help but think because I, earlier this year, no, sorry, last year having gone to FANUC's facility to see all of their robots and see the robots being made and see all their stuff. Part of visiting FANUC's facility, I saw their warehouse and where they get stuff shipped and in one part of the warehouse where some of the robots are ready to be sent to their end users, there were some different painted robots.

And John Toohey who was showing me around the facility was going, "Oh yeah, these different colored robots, they're not special, they're just the regular... Well, they're special, they're FANUC robots, but the color doesn't signify anything special." It's just the end user elected to pay the pretty substantial fee to paint them a color other than yellow, which is the perfect safety industrial color for the robot. And that all of these different colored robots were for all of the new EV companies, Rivian, Tesla, well not Tesla anymore. They're trying to make their own robots. Lucid was up there. And I remember seeing that, remember John telling me that any of the robots that we make, it's a flat fee for any of the robots that you buy from us. It's like $6,000 to paint it a color other than yellow. Or you can not spend the $6,000, just get the best color there is yellow. And I remember seeing that well Lucid spending the $6,000 per robot on getting this paint job. And I'm thinking, so could it have been a poor financial decision?

And having also gone to Stellantis, knowing that your typical Stellantis has multiple, as a lot of the major automotive manufacturers have multiple plants, but your typical automotive assembly plant has about 900 robots. And if you take 900 and multiply it by $6,000 for a custom paint job, that's $5.4 million in custom paint jobs for your robots.

Elissa Davis: It's [inaudible 00:14:50] pay Dr. Evil over five times.

Stephen LaMarca: But I want to ask you guys, if you were running a company that was making a premium product and you had $5.4 million to put somewhere like employee bonuses or something to optimize production like machine monitoring investments, something like that, or paint job-

Benjamin Moses: That's interesting

Stephen LaMarca: Of your robots, what would you do?

Benjamin Moses: At my previous company, that topic actually came up. So I was a smaller company. We did get acquired by large and large companies. So the concept of branding, your factory floor came up quite a bit. So there was an initiative to say, "Hey, our color is this." All of your equipment should be this color plus another color instead of whatever manufacturing equipment came by. It's like, that's interesting. But then when you start digging into it's very costly to change the color or paint post implementation of a manufacturing [inaudible 00:15:56] like CNC mills. We had a lot of CNC mills lades, we did have vertical mills at that point, or vertical lades. We can definitely get in that later.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: But at some point, a three-axis mill costs like $10,000 at some point through third party to paint afterwards. That's $10,000 of cost out improvement or continuous improvement tooling that you could buy. And plus we had like 54 some machines that had to be painted. And did that add up quickly of that's a lot of cost for a small site that has to take that burden on. So depending on how Lucid was set up, it could be the factory, it could be the overall cost of the organization, but in the end, that's cost that you're not getting a return on.

Elissa Davis: Well, because it's all internal.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly.

Elissa Davis: So I understand branding the show floor to an extent or not the show floor, shop floor, sorry. But at the same time it's like, but it's going to be 90% just your employees who see it, right? There's a small fraction of people, but they'll know what company they're in when they walk in there. And so no, if I have $5.4 million, I'd probably spend it and to stay ahead of the game, I'd probably continue putting it into research and stuff like that.

Stephen LaMarca: And that's an interesting thing is when you walk into an office, branding of an office is completely different than branding of factory floor, right?

Elissa Davis: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: So having the factory logo on the main lobby or the locker room or sure, that makes sense. If that costs $10,000, that's different than spending $10,000, 900 times. Yeah. And that's a struggle I've been thinking about as you talk through the articles that who said that this was a good decision? What are they getting out of this, right? Someone had to justify it and say, this is a good decision, but why is that a good decision?

Benjamin Moses: And without trying to beat up Lucid too much because I think they make a great product and I want to see them be successful. But when John was pointing at the other robots that weren't painted that were going to brands like Stellantis, Chevy, it was like long established car companies, they're grounded, they've proven themselves. They don't need to paint their robots. Is that something a long-term car company does? Painting their robots?

Elissa Davis: Well, and I don't think there's an expectation to do that. I think that's part of it too, is that when you go to a shop floor, I would expect to see yellow robots or green robots universal robotics.

Benjamin Moses: If you went to the assembly plant, wouldn't you want to know that companies, that product that you want to potentially invest in, if you want to buy a Lucid, don't you want to see those yellow arms to know that the company is using the best arms on the market?

Elissa Davis: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Some of the best. We've got a lot of great companies that make great robot arms.

Elissa Davis: I don't think people expect it to happen. And I feel like that's-

Stephen LaMarca: And I think that's the key in manufacturing is that there's some level of form falling function. This is exactly the same scenario. You're getting a piece of equipment, you have to paint it something, you need to protect it, and it makes sense to have something bright, something that stands out. In this case if they want to do red because they have theming of safety is important and red, sure that could make sense, but there was no function in this change. It's purely branding and aesthetic where there's some value in a scenario when you're related to visual aesthetics and the factory floor, it's always form follow function. And I think they dropped the ball on this.

Benjamin Moses: I am going to have to come back to this, come back to the podcast with a little bit more research. But I know Ferrari uses FANUC robots.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure.

Benjamin Moses: I want to see if they paint them red.

Stephen LaMarca: We can easily find a video of a Ferrari factory.

Benjamin Moses: Because I kind of want to put like $20 down to say that they probably have yellow FANUC arms.

Elissa Davis: Maybe.

Benjamin Moses: And they make everything red. Ferrari paints everything red. They're like Doja Cat.

Stephen LaMarca: We need some Doja Cat intro at some point. Speaking of robots, I've got one on research related to robots. So this is from Tech Explorer, a new model to allow robots to re-identify and follow human users. So there's a growing trend of using object recognition to help safety standards for robotic arms and automation implementation, basically using vision system say, is there a human involved, slow down system turn off or LIDAR. Definitely seen scenarios where you're using point clouds where an object enters a space. It slows down from there. But one of the interesting things is initial detection is fine, but the re-identification to verify that this object still is here, what's going on? So if the person is standing there, maybe the vision system loses the identification. So I thought it was a very interesting scenario of back to the brains of an automation cell. You have the end of arm tooling, you've got the arm and then the brains of the cell.

And this is another interesting step where we have vision and software and machine learning/artificial intelligence kind of driving new scenarios where the concept of reassessing or re-identifying human objects within a cell. And one of the scenarios that kind of walk through in the map is industrial, mobile robot. So they have an arm on top of an AMR kind of driving around and it's following an object. So there's a lot of new scenarios where humans or robots are human supporting humans, more of truly collaborative operations where you could have an IMR following you and you give it description to say, pick this object up or hold this for me. But the importance of re-identifying the human in that space becomes more and more valuable.

Elissa Davis: At George Mason, they have those little robots that deliver food and my dad hates them because he thinks that he doesn't realize how smart the robots are.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Elissa Davis: So he sees one coming up towards a crosswalk and he'll slam on his brakes not realizing the robot can see him and the robot will stop. And I've tried to explain this to him many, many times because that's what they're designed to do, right? They're designed to see these obstacles and then avoid them or find a way around them. But it's hilarious watching him deal with those robots because he does not think they're smart. He can't wrap his brain around the fact that these robots see this, they see him and they see the intersection, they see the car, and they're not going to cross the road when a car is going through it. So in some ways it feels like such a simple concept, but it is very... At IMTS, I saw this really cool display. I think it was certain sets of lights that they had where it's like if you were within this one, it would slow down. If you were within this one, it would fully stop. And as long as you stayed within the parameters of that light, it wouldn't move. And it was a really interesting display.

Benjamin Moses: IMTS in the year had some incredible safety vision systems. We saw some great ones. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of vision and safety we see at '24.

Stephen LaMarca: And I think the big takeaway for me is that robots will be in this world.

Elissa Davis: Yes.

Stephen LaMarca: I think there's a couple of restaurants I've been to where robots are kind of the waiters, will bring you food. Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Denny's.

Stephen LaMarca: Denny's has one.

Benjamin Moses: That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: The first time I saw one was at Kura Sushi, like the revolving sushi bar in Tyson's, which is very tough to get a table there by the way, which is weird because you go in there and it's like this is a fast food place.

Elissa Davis: The one like the middle of the mall?

Stephen LaMarca: No, [inaudible 00:24:02] actually in the mall. That's Wasabi. You're right. Outside the mall, but in the Tyson's area by Best Buy by Chick-fil-A is Kura sushi. And they serve their drinks there unless you get an alcoholic beverage that has to be brought to you by human. Bartenders won't be replaced anytime soon.

Elissa Davis: Calm down.

Stephen LaMarca: But yeah, Denny's has the same robot. I'm like, interesting.

Benjamin Moses: I've seen those on the west coast. A lot of the hotels will use autonomous robots to bring you towels or whatever you ask for.

Stephen LaMarca: [inaudible 00:24:38] doesn't have them just because they haven't taught them to fight yet.

Benjamin Moses: Let's smoke a cigarette. Elissa, tell me about some DOD awards.

Elissa Davis: Yes. So speaking of IMTS+, who's our sponsor for this episode, our team, our manufacturing explorers, Travis Egan, my boss's boss and his son, Max Egan, my boss's boss's son. They went to 6K located in Pennsylvania on the most recent season, season three. And an article came out recently on the eighth. So this is from 3dprint.com. So the DOD has awarded 6K [inaudible 00:25:16] $23.4 million to upcycle scrap into high grade 3D printing powders. So yeah, so they're awarded as part of the Defense Production Act investment, which is part of the manufacturing capability expansion and investment program. So it's like an award within a program within a program, within a program.

Benjamin Moses: It's the most DOD thing. [inaudible 00:25:41].

Elissa Davis: When you think DOD, you think red tape. Yeah. But this comes a week after 6K announced that it's titanium powder received third party certification, verifying that it contains at least 95% post-consumer recycled titanium.

Stephen LaMarca: That's a growing trend that we've been talking about a little bit is the life cycle of a lot of products nowadays. Everything's going to hit end of life at some point. As sad as that may sound, everything has to have end of life, right? Either goes to a landfill or gets recycled. So wind turbines was one thing I've been watching a lot. You have these a 100 foot long blades. What do you do with them with the end of life? The past five years, there's been a shift to change the raw material so that it can be broken down post-end of life. Because even these large turbine blades, there's an end of life for this massive thing. Airlines have always had this problem too. How do you recycle a 747. And the Department of Defense has same issue with their big aircraft carrier. These can hold 8,000 people. It's literally a floating city. What do you do with that when you have to change over to the next generation?

Elissa Davis: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And it is interesting to see that the deity is definitely interested in understanding this and continuing to look at this object or this thing needs to be converted to something in the future.

Benjamin Moses: I wonder if this has something to do with America. Well, the US government's airplane boneyards are running out of space.

Stephen LaMarca: Exactly.

Benjamin Moses: Because all of that titanium, that's aerospace grade stuff. And titanium is... This sounds crazy, but is titanium probably one of the more easier metals to recycle? Not necessarily work with, but recycle because you just burn everything off of it and it's going to remain tungsten.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. So the separation of the alloys getting to [inaudible 00:27:29].

Benjamin Moses: You're not going to mistake tungsten for titanium.

Stephen LaMarca: And that's the funny thing when you talk about the US is massive. Flying across from the east coast to the west coast is like 5.5, six hours. And the fact that we're going to run out of space and holding these aircrafts as a craft boneyard, we need to figure something out. Right? We are literally going to run out of space in the US.

Benjamin Moses: God bless this country. You can as a civilian, buy some of the planes.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, that's true.

Benjamin Moses: If you want an F16, just put it in your garage.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. It's up to you to get it running.

Elissa Davis: I think most of the military grade ones are kept on base.

Stephen LaMarca: See, let's talk to Becky about putting this in the budget for next year.

Benjamin Moses: Should we get an IMTS wrap on an F16.

Elissa Davis: Just have an F16 sitting on the top of the parking garage. Property of Tech Trends podcast.

Stephen LaMarca: And to be fair to the Department of Defense, they're fairly cutting edge when they're looking at book manufacturing. So looking at how do they handle raw material end of life. We're looking at how they handle additive, their whole life cycle of data within the manufacturing space. They're pushing the envelope quite a bit and good for them.

Elissa Davis: Well, and I think it ties into very much the, I don't want to say trend because I feel like it's something that'll stick around for a long time, but the act of sustainability.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Elissa Davis: If we already have these materials, why create more when we can just use the ones that we have and recycle them? Recycle people, but not your glass in the state of Virginia, don't recycle your glass. You're not supposed to do that. Fun fact. But yeah, I thought it was really interesting. And like I said, manufacturing explorers. You can watch on IMTS+ and see them at 6K.

Stephen LaMarca: Cool. Thanks, Elissa.

Benjamin Moses: Three times.

Stephen LaMarca: Where can they find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd: AMTONLINE.org/resources. Make sure to subscribe. Happy holidays.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
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