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How to tackle the email beast and make face-to-face count

  
  
  
describe the imageBy Don Beckwith, Senior Vice President  Finance and Administration

Today, every organization struggles to find the most effective way to channel internal communications among its employees. Across many departments, how do we best synchronize our conversations as we design, build, deliver and service our products? Deadlines challenge us to balance our digital exchanges with old-fashioned human interaction.

Dictionary.com defines information fatigue syndrome as “a weariness or overwhelming feeling of being faced with an indigestible or incomprehensible amount of information.” That’s what we face in today’s age of data overload, both at work and at home. So we ask ourselves… are high-tech tools compounding the problem? A study reported in Inc. noted that half of the average employee’s time is spent on email and other “necessary, yet unproductive tasks.”

New York Times columnist Sherry Turkle observed that we’re sacrificing meaningful conversation for expedient connection. Increasingly, we are hiding behind email, IM messages and various social media channels rather than having a real-time conversation.

LifeHack and OnlineITDegree.net recently published a useful (and funny) Do I Really Need to Send That Email? decision tree-infographic to help us re-think how we manage our In and Out boxes.

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Do you sit near the colleague(s) receiving your emails? Walk over and talk to them or set up a brief meeting.

  • Think twice about the people that you’re cc’ing. For every 100 people needlessly cc’d, 8 work hours are lost. (TechCrunch)

  • Avoid forwarding a thread of multiple emails to a new recipient who will need to read the entire anthology in order to understand what you need; a true time-waster!

  • A big no-no: Using email to negotiate a contract or resolve an issue.

  • Is what you’re trying to communicate more than a couple paragraphs? Does it require a series of detailed decisions or responses? Schedule a face-to-face or phone meeting.

  • Is the decision maker or team located in another state or country? This is where technology rules. A number of solutions—including videoconferencing, Skype, GoToMeeting and FaceTime—help us easily collaborate without the need to travel to other locations to be productive.

  • Is the news extremely important? Confidential? Bad? Shut off the computer and get in front of the person who needs to hear it.

Admittedly, today’s digital communication tools play an important role in our daily business interactions. However, we need to make an extra effort to engage in face-to-face conversations and fight the urge to shoot off an email or text!


Manufacturing’s biggest challenge

  
  
  
describe the imageBy Bob Sobolewski - President and CEO at ebm-papst Inc.

“There are only three ways that a country builds wealth – you make things, you mine things and you grow things. Everything else is ancillary to that.”
– Pat Lee, Fabricators & Manufacturers Association

U.S. manufacturers contributed $2.08 trillion to the economy in 2013. For each dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.32 is added to our economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. (National Association of Manufacturers).

Here in Connecticut, 4,826 companies employ 167,900 manufacturing workers who earned $12.4 billion in wages and salaries last year. Every $1 million in manufacturing output in our state translates to $2 million in sales in other industries, 8.3 new jobs and $700,000 in new personal income (CBIA).

With a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. — including companies that are insourcing jobs and facilities — you’d think we’d be riding high with no complaints.

Not yet.

National Metal Fabricators President Tom Bonine lists seven of manufacturing’s biggest challenges. To strengthen companies that make quality products and pay good wages, the National Association of Manufacturers urges our elected leaders to choose policies that make this country a better place to invest, a better place to innovate and a better place from which to export.

Having managed growth at ebm-papst Inc. for nearly three decades, I share the views of my fellow Connecticut manufacturers. Federal and state regulation, taxes, reduced demand, raw material prices, overhead costs and competition keep us up at night.

My view? There’s no production without education. As highly experienced employees begin to retire, I worry about preparing new generations for careers within our advanced manufacturing facilities. 

There are solutions we should support, including innovation and training hubs nationally and locally. The National Network of Manufacturing Institutes has four of their 45 projected hubs up and running in in Youngstown Ohio (additive manufacturing), Chicago (digital manufacturing and design), Detroit (lightweight metals, and Raleigh, North Carolina (power electronics).

Here in Connecticut, three manufacturing centers offer a certificate in advanced manufacturing machine technology, while Connecticut’s colleges and universities offer some of the most competitive engineering programs in the country. 

Our most important challenge? Convincing more than half of U.S. teenagers that their perceptions of manufacturing are false. What this means is that promoting manufacturing careers to high school kids isn’t enough. We have to start much earlier.

Is your company struggling to find qualified and enthusiastic people to help you innovate? Partner with your region’s engineering programs, technical training programs and centers. But also go deeper by supporting programs that help our young children embrace the excitement, fun and challenge of inventing and building things.

About Bob Sobolewski
Robert (Bob) Sobolewski
is President and CEO of ebm-papst Inc. A member of many community and industry trade organizations and associations, Bob has been recognized for his support of educational programs, especially those that bring schools and the workplace closer together. He serves as President and Chairman of ingenuityNE and NE FIRST, Chair of the Connecticut Executive Advisory Board of FIRST, a member of the Fairfield University School of Engineering Executive Advisory Board, Vice Chair of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association Board, a Director of Okay Industries, Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Component Industry Association (ECIA) Foundation.

Will you be chillin' (or sweatin') on public transportation this summer?

  
  
  

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By Joe Giacona, Market Manager - Transportation

It is interesting how advances in technology have forced their way into just about every aspect of our world and drive improvements in efficiency that benefit us all.

Mass transit in North America provides a great example of this. The term “mass transit” (i.e. public transportation) is typically characterized by modes of travel such as buses, subways and trains – generally in greater metropolitan areas.

Most people don’t realize how many advances have taken place in mass transit over the past 5-10 years, and how these vital improvements have directly benefitted the environment by proportionately reducing energy consumption.

Gone are the colossal smoke billows of yesteryear – replaced by clean diesel burning engines, alternative fuels (such as CNG), hybrid electric powered vehicles, state-of-the-art HVAC systems and controls.

As technology advances, ridership has increased significantly. Since 2004, the population has grown 7% and  passenger transit miles have increased by 15%, all while highway travel has not significantly increased. This comparison exemplifies the important role mass transit plays in reducing the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The combination of reduction in private passenger vehicle travel, reduced automobile congestion, and  decrease in accrued vehicle mileage is directly related  to the accessibility  of mass transit which conserves over 4 billion gallons of gasoline and 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator, it would require 7.2 million acres of new pine or fir forests per year to match the annual carbon dioxide reductions provided by public transportation. Priced at $3.60 per gallon, the annual conservation of 4 billion gallons of gasoline saves the U.S. consumer $14.4 billion per year (Source: APTA 2013 Fact Book).

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Technological advances have been the impetus for state-of-the-art HVAC systems and controls in transit and rail vehicles. ebm-papst fans play a leading role in providing comfort to millions of people on thousands of transit vehicles every day. ebm-papst brushless EC fans are considered the “gold standard” by many HVAC and bus manufacturers worldwide. By delivering better air flow and higher efficiencies than brushed alternatives, ebm-papst has earned this brand recognition. Our fans provide energy and fuel savings in all modes of operation. ebm-papst EC motor technology also allows manufacturers to take further steps to reduce power consumption by offering variable speed capability; this automatically ties fan speed to actual cooling/heating demand.. The unparalleled reliability and performance of ebm-papst fan technology, combined with operational efficiency, provide end-users unmatched value and comfort.

To learn more, visit the transportation section of our Market Solutions Tool or contact Joe Giacona at ebm-papst Inc.

 


About Joe Giacona

Joe Giacona knows that HVACR components within transportation systems must deliver performance and reliability over the long haul. As market manager – transportation at ebm-papst, Joe’s 30+ years of diverse experience in HVACR help him recommend the best ebm-papst products to heat and cool customers’ buses, trains, trucks and other vehicles across North America. Joe actively supports the company’s market development, forecasting, field sales coordination and customer relations. He holds a B.S. in physics from Brockport State College and a B.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Buffalo. In his free time, Joe enjoys cooking for his family, do-it-yourself projects, keeping his 1960 Corvette Roadster in peak form, and making wine from New York and California grapes.

Cooling the equipment that keeps us well

  
  
  
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by Todd Cardillo, Market Mager -Industrial

ebm-papst Inc. has provided air-moving solutions  for medical equipment and  devices for decades. Beyond the UL, CSA, CE, EMC and other quality standards that our industrial customers must meet, medical equipment and device manufacturers must comply with FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) requirements. 

When new products are brought to market or existing ones are modified, FDA approvals play a critical role in our customers’ qualification processes.  The FDA tests and regulates medical devices and equipment – ensuring they are safe and effective for human use. This type of testing can be expensive and lengthy. Medical equipment components need to be tested for robustness and extended life expectancy. 

Since most medical devices incorporate electronics that generate high levels of heat, these frequently require internal fans or blowers. This is where we’ve applied our expertise. 

As one example, several of our axial fans are used within a computed tomography (CT) scan machine. Some of the fans are located in the gantry portion of the scanner, which rotates at a high velocity. For this application, our fans need to reliably operate at up to 75 G forces to cool the gantry during motion.  To address the air flow needed for controlling equipment ambient temperatures, as well as acoustic noise and environmental requirements, it’s crucial that the optimum air moving device is chosen at the beginning stages of any medical equipment project. 

For more details on the ebm-papst products available to cool medical equipment and devices, visit the medical equipment applications area in our Market Solutions Tool.

About Todd Cardillo
At ebm-papst Inc. for more than 18 years, Todd enthusiastically embraces his current role as Market Manager for the Industrial market. He continuously builds new relationships and strives to deepen interactions with existing customers. Todd’s commitment to the company drives him to thoroughly educate customers on ebm-papst’s product offerings, while at the same time learning all he can about each customer’s business applications. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. When not at work, Todd treasures his time with his 3 adventurous children – engaging in triathlons, mountain biking, adventure races, skiing and traveling.

 

Fan Noise: How to Control Air Turbulences

  
  
  

 

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Turbulence. It happens. Luckily, ebm-papst has a solution for noisy systems.

If you’ve tossed and turned at night, unable to sleep because of humming sounds from your home’s air conditioner, you know these noises are intolerable. That same distraction from a heating or A/C system can strike anywhere… in the office, at the store, at a restaurant.

But did you know that it’s usually the turbulence in an air-moving system – not the components – that makes your ears ring?

Fans are an essential part of today’s refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation systems.  They are designed and tested to minimize noise in thousands of applications. However, there are wide differences in how fans are installed and configured, the conditions in which they operate, and their location within the air system. These variables can create air inflow and outflow disruptions that raise the ‘loudness level.’

For example, the housing walls of rectangular heat exchangers can generate a backflow that creates pressure fluctuations on the fan blade. These turbulence ‘vortexes’ drastically increase a fan’s low-frequency (tonal) noise. While it’s not possible to compensate by changing the fan itself, it is possible to straighten the flow of air moving into the fan and balance the pressure of air moving out of the fan.

FlowGrid

Over the past few years, ebm-papst has developed two passive add-on devices — the FlowGrid air inlet grill and the AxiTop diffuser. In distinctive ways, each improve how air moves into and out of our axial and centrifugal fans.

The FlowGrid air inlet grill has a straightening effect on the inflowing air, reducing acoustical levels and considerably reducing tonal noise.

In a condenser application, fitted with an axial fan, the FlowGrid air inlet grill reduces overall sound levels by 3.9 dB(A) and tonal noise by 16 dB. In a low profile (250 mm diameter) air conditioning device, the FlowGrid reduces sound levels by 2.5 dB(A) and reduces tonal noise by 9 dB.

Condenser Sound Measurement Chart

This graph shows actual results of sound measurement performed on a condenser. The air inlet grill achieves a significant reduction in sound pressure levels and considerably weakens tonal noise.

 

 

 



While FlowGrid works to reduce low-frequency noise on a fan’s inlet side, the AxiTop diffuser reduces mid-frequency noise on the fan’s discharge side. How does this work? AxiTop operates like a reverse nozzle, increasing pressure and significantly reducing discharge losses. Efficiency increases and operating noise decreases.

Using both AxiTop and FlowGrid on a condenser fitted with a 31.5 inch (800 mm) axial fan, with outside air drawn through a heat exchanger, we’re able to reduce the fan’s noise level by 5.8 dB(A) and tonal noise by 20 dB.

Third Octave Band Sound Power
Setting new standards for their quiet, energy-efficient operation, both devices are advancing technology and creating ideal operating conditions for fans. As a result, we can all sleep better!

Contact our application engineer for additional information at 860 674-1515 or by e-mail at sales@us.ebmpapst.com.

The lights shine bright in Las Vegas!

  
  
  

Las Vegas - one of the most illuminated cities in the world - hosted 600 exhibitors and close to 40,000 attendees at this year’s LIGHTFAIR International Trade Show and Conference held June 3-5. 

ebm-papst showcased active cooling solutions for a variety of lighting markets. Innovators as Pathway Lighting, LF Illumination, Alterlume, Spectrum Lighting, NBL, Atlantic Lighting and Century LED provided examples of our contract manufacturing capabilities. We displayed a wide array of fans including our radial impellers, axial fans and FlatPak blowers.

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More than 1,000 attendees visited our booth, seeking reliability and long life span, ingress protection and energy efficiency in the systems that cool their lighting applications. The ebm-papst team demonstrated how our products exceed expectations for all three criteria.  Visitors were also impressed with our industry leading 7 decibel active solution for high powered light engines produced by Xicato, CREE, Bridgelux, Philips and other- LED OEMs.

Talking about trends, this year’s show reinforced what we’re already seeing in the marketplace: Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology will become the norm for virtually every light fixture over the next decade. Our active cooling solutions, which dissipate heat directly from the core of LED modules, are becoming more and more popular for high-powered LED lamps used in concert halls, museums, places of worship - as well as retail and architectural venues. Technology is also improving for LED drivers, which regulate the level of power to an LED or string of LEDs based on changing energy demands and operating environments. 

Want more information on the cooling solutions ebm-papst can offer your high-tech, high heat lighting applications?
Visit the SSL/LED lighting section in our Market Solutions Tool!

To learn more, please contact Steve Berestecky at ebm-papst Inc.

Every Day is Green Day at ebm-papst

  
  
  

In keeping with our company’s GreenTech philosophy, Thursday June 5 was our annual GreenDay celebration. Throughout the week, employees contributed to several “green” pursuits. Encouraged to gather recyclable items from home, employees brought in an array of items including electronics waste, CFL & LED light bulbs, household batteries, and scrap metal. The collection yielded 36 CFL and LED light bulbs; 32 pounds of household batteries; 585 pounds of scrap metal; 1,401 pounds of electronics and more than ten TVs. These items were combined with the company’s regular recycling efforts. 

recycling bulbs batteries

In addition to our year-round recycling campaign, employees brought personal paperwork from home for shredding. We gathered half a ton of paper - equivalent to 8 trees. So far this year, ebm-papst has saved 138 trees by recycling 8.1 tons of paper!

To benefit the SPCA of CT. We donated 133 pounds of old blankets, sheets and towels for re-use in animal shelters.

Recycling old textiles, those not fit for re-use, was the one effort that remained elusive. Regrettably, we could not find an organization in Connecticut that would recycle old textiles even after contacting the Town of Farmington, as well as SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles). In the mid-1990s when I lived in San Jose, CA,
I recall the weekly curbside recycling collection included textiles (and these collections continue today - 20 years later).   

Our Green Week concluded with a crew of volunteers cleaning up a heavily used area of the Farmington River. The employees collected 50 pounds of trash & recyclable containers, another 40 pounds of scrap metal, and a truck tire. Like our last two GreenDay clean ups, there is always plenty of trash to be collected if you want to find it!

To learn more about this topic, please contact Phil Hartman at ebm-papst Inc.

2014 Clean Up 500px


About Phil Hartman

Phil Hartman, ebm-papst Senior Director – Marketing, is a fan of the company’s GreenTech philosophy of developing innovative products that meet our customers’ needs while at the same time offering increased energy efficiency & more eco-friendly processes with each new product generation.  In his 26 years with ebm-papst Inc. including locations in San Jose, CA and Farmington, CT, he has held several positions in the sales and marketing departments and has experienced exciting changes affecting ebm-papst, our customers and the markets we serve.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Hartford.  In his free time, Phil pursues outdoor activities year round.

4 Key Trends for Data Center Cooling

  
  
  

Takeaways from AFCOM's Data Center World Conference

Data center professionals continuously seek more efficient ways to cool and ventilate their expanding data centers. Every year, ebm-papst showcases its cooling solutions at the industry’s premier trade event — AFCOM’s Data Center World Spring Global Conference.  One of our key R&D ‘listening posts,’ AFCOM keeps us ahead of the curve in developing the most efficient GreenTech products for future data centers. More than 200 exhibitors, 1,000 attendees and dozens of presenters attended this year’s show.

AFCOMInsight #1: Up your game to meet changing requirements.
Industry trends tell us that over the next 10 years, Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) will become an integral discipline for data center owners and managers who want to expand and reduce costs. Product suppliers must provide DCIM ready products with features not only to help their data center clients control their energy use but also help them implement and manage predictive failure and recovery protocols for their facilities.  Our EC Greentech products include DCIM ready features above industry standards – leaving system designers and architects with variety of options.

Insight #2: New power configurations = greener operation.
More than half the power brought into many data centers is ‘lost’ to tasks like cooling before it arrives at these systems’ processors or hard drives. As a result, data center ventilation and cooling systems will move to electronically-commutated (EC) solutions, which better manage changes in the data center’s heat, boost cooling efficiency and compactness.

Insight #3: Location, Location, Location.

To provide free cooling benefits, data centers’ locations will be increasingly important. The owners of very large data centers will design brand new data centers tasked to provide the most efficient cooling available. Medium to small owners will begin to co-locate their data centers.

Insight #4: When, not if, Mother Nature strikes.HyBlade Bundle

Even good UPS systems can’t provide backup power forever. Over the past few years, storms in the Northeast, tornadoes in the Midwest and earthquakes in California have forced data center owners to re-review their disaster recovery plans.

Increasingly, data centers are sharing loads across geographically dispersed locations, preventing a single natural disaster from bringing a system down. While this is a more robust solution, it also increases complexity and costs. Others are examining how cloud services can offer a certain level of continuous backup to preserve highly critical data.

As we control our impact on the environment and maintain the keystones of our nation’s IT infrastructure, we continue to make data center operations more efficient. Data Center World is where we source pertinent feedback that fuels ebm-papst’s newest GreenTech EC products working seamlessly with today and tomorrow’s DCIM systems.

To learn more about this topic, please contact Joe Landrette at ebm-papst Inc.

Electronics by The Sea: Three Productive Days at Del Mar

  
  
  

Coinciding with projected growth of 2-9% in Southern California’s electronics market over the next five years, the Del-Mar Electronics and Design Show has become one of the region’s premier trade shows, which was held from April 28 - 30.  ebm-papst was among the annual exhibitors, which included 250 participants covering 440 booths. Mechanical design and fabrication companies, molders using various plastics and laser marketing and cutting manufacturers were among the vendors in attendance. With about 4,000 visitors (up by 33 percent over two years), the show continues to gain momentum.

ebm-papst featured fan designs and systemIP68 BlogGraphic 300px configurations for air movement in high-performance electronic devices and the infrastructure that supports them and highlighted its IP68 products and LED Active Cooling Solutions. The exhibit also included RadiCal impellers, with a new blade design, that offer a higher level of efficiency compared to former backward curved impellers.

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High taxes and extensive environmental regulation continue to be issues for California-based electronics manufacturers and suppliers. However, optimists predict the costs of offshore production, transportation and unreliable production schedules may soon bring a portion of the world’s electronics manufacturing back to the U.S. If you’re a customer who wants closer connections to your supply chain, that’s very good news!



How High Efficiency Condensing Gas Boilers Work

  
  
  
DaveHillburn 110x135by Dave Hillburn, Business Development Manager - Heating

Whether they’re used for home heating, supplying a university building with hot water, or warming the turf on a football field, condensing gas boilers are the most efficient way to heat water in a hydronic heating system. Although common and used daily, most people are uncertain about the basic principles and components of these systems. With that in mind, the following is a review of how high efficiency condensing gas boilers work: the basics of combustion, the meaning of high efficiency in terms of boiler operation, and   types of components in a condensing gas boiler.

Combustion basics
Combustion is an exothermic reaction (meaning it gives off heat) that occurs when you rapidly mix air and fuel in the proper ratio. Air mixed with hydrocarbons such as natural gas, oil, and propane, produces in heat, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. These are commonly referred to as products of combustion, and make up the flue gases that exit the boiler via the flue or chimney.

What is a high efficiency condensing gas boiler?
Boilers have been used in hydronic heating systems for hundreds of years to create and move hot water through pipes and deliver heat. These systems differ from furnaces in that they move water instead air through them.  Until about 25 years ago, home heating boilers were mid-efficiency (80-85%) products with flue gas temperatures typically around 350°F. In a high efficiency boiler, the flue gases are usually around 135°F and efficiencies of 95% or greater can be achieved. This difference in flue temperature is where high efficiency boilers get part of their extra efficiency; extracting more heat from combustion out of the flue gases and putting it into the hydronic system. In fact, these products are so efficient and pull so much heat out of the flue gases that the water vapor in these gases actually cools and condenses, changing state from vapor to liquid. Hence, the name condensing gas boiler.

The other facet contributing to the high efficiency of condensing gas boilers is the combustion air fan can fully modulate its speed as compared to a single stage, full on or off, device found on typical mid-efficiency boilers. This modulation means the blower can adjust its speed to the varying input rates needed during the fall and spring months. Therefore, the boiler input rate can better match the demand of the heating system. Consider your conventional mid-efficiency boiler as a car with only two speeds: full on or off. In contrast, a high efficiency condensing gas boiler, with a fully modulating ebm-papst blower, is capable of running at full on, off, or any speed in between. The result is a more efficient boiler and meets the demand of the system, even when the full heat input isn’t needed.

Components of a high efficiency condensing gas boiler
Now that we understand the combustion process and the basic concepts of a high efficiency condensing gas boiler, let’s take a look at the components that make up the boiler system.

BoilerSystem 750pxHeat Exchanger: Commonly made up of either stainless steel or aluminum, this is where heat is transferred from the combustion process into the water, and then moved through the hydronic system.

Premix Gas Blower: Delivers premixed air and fuel to the burner where combustion takes place.

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Venturi Mixer:
A channel through which combustion air travels and induces negative pressure on the gas valve, allowing gas to flow and mix with the air in the blower.

Gas Valve: Responds to the pressure signal from the venturi and controls the flow of gaseous fuels into the system. It also acts as a safety shutoff; closing off the flow of fuel if the boiler is not running.

Condensate Collection System (Not Shown): This system safely collects the condensate formed in the heat exchanger and removes it from the system.

Boiler Control (Not Shown): An electronic module that monitors the safety limits and general operation of a condensing gas boiler.

These systems work together in balance to control the combustion process and heat input into the hydronic system. At the heart of the system, the premix gas blower, constantly modulating and adjusting to meet the demand of the application. The next time you’re looking to upgrade or replace your existing boiler you now have an understanding of the basic principles behind these devices and can make the engineer’s choice, a boiler with ebm-papst on the inside.

About Dave Hillburn
Dave Hillburn works with ebm-papst customers to incorporate the right system solutions into their residential and commercial heating applications. With seven years hands-on experience in combustion design, he helps optimize these systems’ output and energy efficiency. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Dave enjoys playing drums and guitar, sports and travel.
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