Friday Offcuts – 28 June 2019

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They came, they learnt, and there was certainly plenty of networking going on. It was the largest gathering yet seen in New Zealand. Almost 500 logging contractors, forestry managers, forest owners, harvest planners and all major equipment and technology suppliers into the logging industry in this part of the world met in Rotorua at HarvestTECH 2019. The Sold-Out sign had gone out months before it ran. The two-yearly wood harvesting event organised by the Forest Industry Engineering Association wrapped up yesterday.

Two days of interactive activities showcasing new logging innovations, presentations from contractors and technology leaders as well as comprehensive exhibition areas (both inside and outside the venue) provided a unique opportunity for local harvesting operations to check out an array of new harvesting equipment suited to local conditions. They were able to meet up with world leaders and innovators in this space, first hand. It wasn’t only the kiwis though. Over 50 contractors and forest managers from Australia came across. Representatives from companies drawn from across Canada, the USA, Brazil, Chile, Finland, South Africa and Papua New Guinea were also involved in the event. Forest tours were also run by some suppliers for their key customers. It’s truly become an international event for this region and it’s been another outstanding week of networking for the local logging industry. Further details and images from the event will be covered in next week’s issue.

Part of the wood harvesting event this week focussed on the move to mechanisation on the hill – the increasing use of robotics, tele-operation of equipment, the use of new sensors collecting operational and production data and powerful analytics packages that can make use of the collected data to improve logging operations. In this week’s issue we’ve included a couple of stories linked to automation that might strike a chord with you.

One looks at the extensive use of robots (and there are thousands of them) working in a manufacturing environment and the second (you knew it was finally going to get here), relates to some testing of autonomous UAV’s for data capture or use in more hazardous field operations like chemical spraying. This time though they’ve jumped up in scale – moving from your backyard drone to a Robinson R22 helicopter. Maybe it’s a far cry from automation in the bush but it shows just how these new technologies are driving a step change and reshaping how we do business.

Finally, in timber use in construction, a group of German researchers have been working on harnessing the timber drying process for construction of curved shapes and in New Zealand, engineers are busy at the moment testing timber structures and how they perform in earthquakes. In this region, registrations to the WoodWorks/Changing Perceptions mass timber conference being run in Auckland, New Zealand in early September have also just opened. Details can be found on the event website and will follow in future issues. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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OneFortyOne set to invest a further AU$19M

When OneFortyOne took ownership of Mount Gambier’s Jubilee Highway Sawmill in 2018, it not only cemented the company’s commitment to the Green Triangle region, but it also marked the first of many significant investments to be made at the site.

Over the past 18 months, OneFortyOne has invested AU$19 million in various projects, ensuring the mill remains one of the largest and most efficient mills in Australia, and at the cutting edge of domestic processing.

The company has announced this week a further AU$19 million investment at the site for two major capital projects. Work is set to start this month with the purchase and installation of a new scanner and two new highly efficient Continuous Drying Kilns, with the projects set to conclude in 2020.

OneFortyOne’s Executive General Manager Australia, Cameron MacDonald said “We are excited to see the positive impact of our ongoing investment across the mill, ensuring it continues to be a world class plant for many years to come.

Source: OneFortyOne
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Sawmill machine alignment focus in September

In a recent issue of this newsletter we profiled the series of more practical workshops that will be running alongside sawmilling tech innovations that will be making up the two-yearly technology series ( WoodTECH 2019) being run for this region’s sawmills in September.

As part of the workshop series, USNR will be running a session on primary breakdown machine alignment and maintenance techniques to improve reliability.

Maintaining machine alignment requires skilled mechanics that are knowledgeable about the workings of the machine. Training mechanics or contractors to be familiar with the machine is a good plan of action. Machine alignments are an in-depth part of Preventive Maintenance. Improving reliability cannot be achieved without frequent alignment inspections. Quarterly is frequent.

The workshop will be focusing on techniques used by mills operating at very high reliability record. We will be looking at what they’re doing to achieve such high numbers.

Key Elements to Improving Reliability are often simple, like;

- Improved locking methods for nuts and bolts.
- Identifying what is contributing to high shock loads and reducing or eliminating them.
- Improved monitoring of key elements, knowing what is normal and what is not and investigating root causes of failures are all actions required to increase reliability.
- We will review what is a realistic alignment schedule, what needs to be done prior to the alignment and who should be involved.
- Alignment techniques or methods will be reviewed. Which one is best for your own machine application?

Training for your mechanics will be reviewed. What type and depth of training should be employed? Continuous improvement with mill processes cannot reach their full potential without improving on the education of the people responsible for maintaining the new processes.

WoodTECH 2019 runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 11-12 September and then again for Australian sawmills in Melbourne on 17-18 September. Full details on the programme for both venues can be viewed on line at

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The future of manufacturing?

This one is well worth a look. Ocado's new warehouse has thousands of robots zooming around a grid system to pack groceries. The thousands of robots can process 65,000 orders every week. They communicate on a 4G network to avoid bumping into each other. Is this the future of retail or manufacturing?

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Unmanned Robinson helicopter tested as UAV

A Robinson R22 helicopter was converted by UAVOS to an unmanned drone. UAVOS — which specializes in the design, development and manufacturing of unmanned vehicles and autopilot systems — successfully completed in-air programmed missions with the unmanned helicopter.

The first flight this spring of the modernized helicopter lasted more than one hour and was performed in a fully self-piloted mode, reaching an altitude of up to 2,200 feet (670 metres). During the flight, all scheduled tests were performed including fully automatic take-off, en-route flight and landing. The tuning of UAV control settings was completed as well.

The converted R22-UV is serving as a platform for research and testing for commercial UAV options. For instance, upcoming test flights will include cargo delivery of up to 330 pounds (150 kg) in automatic mode. Flights with a duration of 6+ hours using additional fuel tanks and a payload for monitoring the land surface are also planned.

Besides that, UAVOS is planning to check operational limitations of the UAV during night flights and flights under severe weather conditions. A top priority is testing the possibility of using spraying equipment and to see whether R22-UV could serve agricultural purposes.

The converted aircraft has a practical ceiling of 13,780 feet (4,200 meters) and has a top speed of 189 kph. The UAV is designed to carry high-precision, heavy professional equipment 88 pounds (40 kg and more) for a wide variety of missions including lidar, synthetic aperture radar, heavy optical equipment or gas analyzers.

The R22-UV can be operated in the regions without airfields, under severe weather conditions and during night-time, in the conditions with high stress risk for a pilot. The converted helicopter is useful for oil and gas companies that need to deliver cargo to hard-to-reach places, or where chemicals hazardous to humans are spread on the fields and forests.

For further information and a link to the article, check out the recent posting on

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Value of commercial plantation harvests at record high

Conditions in Australia’s forestry sector remain favourable, according to a report just released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

ABARES acting Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said the Australian forest and wood products statistics: September and December quarters 2018, shows the total value of logs harvested in 2017–18 was a record high AU$2.7 billion, up 4 per cent from 2016–17. This increase was driven by values of hardwood and softwood commercial plantation harvests.

“The total volume of logs harvested in 2017–18 remains high at 32.9 million cubic metres, down 1 per cent from the record high 2016–17 log harvest but an increase of 44 per cent since 2012–13. Commercial plantation logs comprise 87 per cent of Australia’s total log harvest, up 19 per cent over the decade”, Mr Gooday said.

“The high log harvest has been underpinned by continued strong export demand for our products, especially hardwood woodchips and roundwood logs.”

Strong export demand continued into the first half of 2018−19, with higher woodchip volumes contributing to an overall rise in export value of 10 per cent, compared with the first six months of 2017–18. Over the same period, wood product import values increased by 14 per cent.

“Consumption of wood products was also higher across most categories in 2017–18, with softwood sawnwood consumption up 5 per cent over the year, packaging and industrial paper up 5 per cent, and aggregate paper and paperboard up 1 per cent”, said Mr Gooday.

In contrast to these positive trends, ABARES estimated small declines in wood processing industry output in 2017–18. Softwood and hardwood sawnwood production both decreased, down by a combined 2 per cent over the year. Production of paper and paperboard also decreased slightly.

In the first half of 2018–19, the number of new houses commenced decreased by 4 per cent, with other residential building commencements down 10 per cent, compared with the first six months of 2017–18.

Read the full report here.

Source: ABARES

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Wood processing shines at ExportNZ BOP Awards

A tour operator with our national game at heart; an innovative agri-tech company; a General Manager of Sales and Marketing for an organic spice exporter; and a specialist in automation in solid wood processing were the big winners at the ExportNZ Bay of Plenty Awards. The 29th annual awards were presented at a glamorous ‘A Night with the Stars’ gala dinner in Tauranga.

Sharp Tudhope Lawyers Best Medium-Large Business Winner Automation & Electronics NZ were praised by the judges for their long history of successful exporting through tough times that have seen them re-think their strategy in order to continue to succeed.

The company has challenged in particular North American providers of automation controls and 3D scanning and optimisation solutions for the solid wood processing industry. Today Automation & Electronics has more than fifty installations - or companies that use their products and processes - in North America and more than 750 installations worldwide.

Sharp Tudhope Lawyers Best Medium-Large Business: Automation & Electronics NZ Ltd, Photo: Wayne Tait Photography


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China recognises wood framing in new standard

Wood Frame Construction Technology (WFC) has officially been recognized for the first time by China’s Green Building Evaluation Standard as a viable solution for the country’s green building credit rating. This is another milestone for WFC in China on the government regulations front after a series of prefabrication policies favourable to wood has been published in the past few years.

The newly revised standard, printed in May and scheduled to be implemented in August 2019, includes WFC as one of the three building solutions along with concrete and steel systems. It also awards credits to wood frame solutions for being an innovative construction technology. The new standard also introduces the entry Certified Level, making it aligned with the LEED certification system and offering more accessible eligibility. This also means that green building standard is likely to be implemented as de-facto compulsory measures in the future.

In 2006, the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) released its first Evaluation Standard for Green Building, otherwise known as the Three Star System. Different from LEED’s total points rating system, the Chinese system requires that a building must obtain a certain number of points in all rating categories to qualify for a star rating.

Based on the 2006 Evaluation Standard for Green Building, MOHURD further revised the document the standard in 2015, vowing that 30% of all newly constructed buildings will be green by 2020. However, the 2015 revision still did not specify whether WFC was considered a green building solution.

In recent years, unremitting lobbying efforts by Canada Wood China contributed to the official recognition of WFC in a series of policies and industrialised construction standards. MOHURD realized that WFC should also be a part of green building policies and standards, and started working on revising the Three Star System again in 2018, merely three years after its second iteration.

The standard is expected to be revised again in 2020. Canada Wood China will maintain close communications with MOHURD to ensure the inclusion of WFC content in the revised standard.

Source: Canada Wood Group

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NZ engineers test timber as an earthquake solution

Across the globe, wood is making a construction comeback. With the world’s tallest timber-framed building opening in Norway recently, it’s seen as a sustainable way to build. Back in New Zealand, engineers in Christchurch are putting wooden structures to the test against earthquakes.

“We know an earthquake’s force is produced mainly by the mass of the building,” the project’s lead researcher Minghao Li says. “Wood is much lighter than concrete and steel which means much less earthquake force and we know wood is strong”.

They’re investigating core wall structures, which are frames used for elevator shafts and staircases and crucial anchor points for buildings. “For wind events that’ll happen every day or these earthquakes that can happen, these core walls will prevent the building from falling,” says Justin Brown, an engineer working on the project.

Using an 8.6 metre core-wall test subject at the University of Canterbury, they’re using hydraulic rams to measure how much force a timber structure can take. Mr Brown says the main issue is its flexibility. “If it moves too far, you might damage the non-structural parts of the building, the cladding, the glass within it”.

But David Carradine from the Building Research Association of New Zealand says timber has other benefits. “Namely its lower density and its ability to provide then for lower forces and smaller foundations.”

Aiming to test a 10 to 12 storey structure, the engineers are now turning to digital designs. “With a verified computer model, we can run parametric studies, sensitivity studies to really understand a bigger picture of how these types of structures will behave under different earthquake scenarios,” says Mr Li.

He says the plan now is to design building guidelines around timber core walls for a more stable and sustainable future.

Source: tvnz

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World-first twisting timber tower

Moisture is usually bad news for timber, at least if you plan to use it for building purposes. This is largely because it can cause the material to crack and warp as it dries out, features hardly conducive to the idea of structural integrity. But one group of researchers in Germany is investigating how this process can actually be harnessed for more efficient construction, manifesting in a magnificent tower made up of timber pieces that twisted themselves into shape.

Generally speaking, part of preparing timber for construction involves ridding it of moisture by drying it out in a kiln, or a machine with similar heating capabilities. This causes it to deform, but ultimately stabilizes it and makes it suitable for use. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart's Institute for Computational Design and Construction are exploring how they can interfere in this process to "program" the wood so that it transforms into desired shapes, just like you might program a robot to perform particular movements.

"By carefully understanding and digitally modelling the deformations that occur in the drying process we can arrange the wood before drying to produce specific deformations," team member and doctoral candidate Dylan Wood explains to New Atlas. "More specifically, we build flat wood bilayers plates (two layers with opposing grain directions) while the wood still has a relatively high moisture content. The plates are dried using industrial drying processes and they emerge curved. The species of wood, grain orientations, thickness ratios, and the change in moisture during the drying process are all parameters that affect the curvature."

The team says its so-called Urbach Tower is the first structure in the world to use self-shaped building-scale components. To begin, the bilayers were produced to contain 22 percent wood moisture content and were then dried to 12 percent, which Wood says is standard for this type of construction. Once dried and curved, the bilayers were stacked and glued together to lock their curvatures in place.

These warped Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) components were then transported by truck to a site at Remstal Gartenschau 2019, a garden show in the German city of Schorndorf. Here, a team of four craftsmen assembled the pieces into a striking 14-meter-tall (45-ft) tower in a single day, topping it off with a transparent roof. The tower was then finished with a protective facade of larch wood, and is also equipped with sensors that will track moisture content over the coming decade to try and keep tabs on any further warping. More >>.

Source: University of Stuttgart

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B.C.’s forestry industry’s woes impact on economy

Battered and bleeding, the B.C. lumber industry has seen better days. Today, it is grappling with tough market conditions, a diminished domestic timber supply (along with rising fibre costs), U.S. softwood import tariffs and a lack of provincial government interest in doing much to improve the competitive environment.

That is worrisome. Forestry – of which lumber production is the largest component – is a high-wage industry that remains the mainstay of regional economies across the province, particularly outside of the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria.

The activities across all segments of forestry combined account for billions of dollars of B.C.’s economic output (GDP), provide direct employment for more than 50,000 British Columbians, and pay $4 billion a year in taxes, royalties and fees to various levels of government. Tens of thousands of additional B.C. jobs also depend on forestry because of the industry’s extensive linkages with other sectors of the economy.

Then there is forestry’s outsized role in B.C.’s exports. British Columbia is a small jurisdiction that must trade to ensure its economic well-being. Exports of goods and services amount to about one-third of the province’s GDP. These exports furnish the economic means that enable households and businesses to pay for imports of a wide array of goods and services – everything from vehicles, medical devices, pharmaceutical products and IT equipment to consumer electronics, clothing and many foodstuffs.

As a small economy, B.C. needs to pay close attention to the health of its “traded industry clusters,” the industries that produce goods and services for sale outside of the province.

Today, despite its manifold challenges, forestry ranks as B.C.’s biggest traded industry, and by a significant margin. While B.C. boasts an increasingly diversified economy, forestry continues to generate 30% to 35% of the earnings that B.C. garners from selling goods abroad. The softwood lumber business alone cranks out exports of $6 billion every year – at least 10 times the value of exports from the “clean tech” industry that fascinates so many of our politicians.

Forestry’s contribution to B.C.’s exports hasn’t fallen, even though other industries – e.g., energy, agriculture and high technology – have gained a higher profile over time. Indeed, if anything, forestry’s place in B.C.’s merchandise export mix expanded slightly over the 2009-17 period. More >>


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Forestry and Environmental Sustainability survey

Scion is currently repeating the 2009 NZ Forestry and Environmental Sustainability survey, to update our data a decade on, and understand how industry perspectives have changed. The results will inform a free forest sector workshop being held in Wellington on 30th July through the Growing Confidence in Forestry’s Future research programme.

We need your input on current perspectives, issues and more importantly any actions being taken by forestry business in response to climate change. The results from the survey and the workshop will be worked up into a paper and discussion document to inform future forestry and climate actions. Thanks for your participation. If interested in participating, click here.

Source: Scion

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Smoke from wildfire is like a chemical soup

Inhaling smoke from a wildfire can be equal to smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day depending on its thickness, says a researcher studying wildfires in Western Canada. Mike Flannigan, a professor with the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, said the smoke is like a “chemical soup” that can be trapped in the lungs and cause a number of health issues.

“They are all kinds of particles, mercury, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane … there’s a whole long list.” Depending on the size of the particles, they get trapped in the lungs, accumulate over time and cause “all kinds of problems,” Flannigan said. “The more we are finding out about smoke and health, the more we are finding out it is bad for us, which isn’t a surprise but it’s worse than we thought.”

Sarah Henderson, a senior environmental health scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, said the smaller the particles, the worse they are. Both Flannigan and Henderson made presentations at the BC Lung Association’s annual workshop on air quality and health. Their presentations were timely after extreme wildfire seasons in British Columbia in 2017 and 2018. Smoke from forest fires last year reached Atlantic Canada and even as far away as Ireland.

Emissions vary depending on the differences in fuel, burning conditions and other environmental factors, Flannigan said. The spread hinges on how high smoke and fire columns rise. Winds can carry the particles north to Europe and Asia, across the world and back again, Flannigan said.

In 2017, the area burned in B.C. was 12,000 square kilometres, which was a record until last summer when 13,000 square kilometres of the province was consumed by fire. The B.C. government declared a state of emergency for both seasons.

The intensity of wildfires, as shown through remote sensing, is also increasing, Flannigan said, noting that as fuels get drier it is easier for fires to start and spread. And the wildfire season is also starting much sooner, he said. In Alberta the wildfire season used to begin April 1 but it’s now starting March 1 and is lasting longer.

“In Canada our area burned has doubled since the 1970s. And my colleagues and I attribute this to — I can’t be any clearer — human-caused climate change,” he said. “Our climate is changing and this has affected fire activity in Canada, western United States and other parts of the world.”

The last two years saw over four per cent of forested area burn in B.C. and the province is nowhere close to exhausting how much can burn, Flannigan said. Historically, he said, it would have been unlikely that the province would have seen a third bad fire season. “But it’s entirely possible,” he said.

Climate change is making the jet stream weaker, which is causing hot, dry summer days, which are conducive to fire activity, he said. “Will things get worse? Absolutely. Not every year. Some years will be cooler, some years will be wetter,” Flannigan said.

“On an average we’re going to see a lot more fire, and they’re going to be longer fire seasons, more intense, and the primary reason why climate change influences fire activity is that the warmer it gets the more fire we see.”


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Forest soil recovery following disturbance

- Australian National University’s Elle Bowd led a research team that collected 729 soil cores from 81 sites in the mountain ash forests of southeast Australia. The sampling sites had been subjected to nine different types of disturbances, from wildfires to clearcutting and post-fire salvage logging, at different frequencies in the past.
- The team used the soil samples to look at 22 different soil measures, including key soil nutrients like nitrate, organic carbon, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur, and how they’d been impacted by disturbances that occurred 8, 34, 78, and 167 years ago.
- Bowd said the team’s findings show that forest soils recover from disturbances slowly over many years — up to 80 years following a wildfire and as many as 30 years after logging, much longer than previously thought.

According to Elle Bowd, a researcher with Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, there have been very few studies about the long-term impacts of disturbances like wildfires and logging on forest soils.

Based on what research has been done, we know that post-fire ash can inject large amounts of nutrients that plants need for growth, like phosphorus and nitrogen, into forest soils immediately after a fire. “But [we] know little about what happens 8 or 34 years after logging or 8 to 167 years after a bush fire to soils, despite their ongoing functional roles,” Bowd told Mongabay.

To fill this gap in our understanding of how long it takes forest soils to recover from disturbance, Bowd led a research team that collected 729 soil cores from 81 sites in the mountain ash forests of southeast Australia. The sampling sites had been subjected to nine different types of disturbances, from wildfires to clearcutting and post-fire salvage logging, at different frequencies in the past. The team used the soil samples to look at 22 different soil measures, including key soil nutrients like nitrate, organic carbon, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur, and how they’d been impacted by disturbances that occurred 8, 34, 78, and 167 years ago.

By comparing the results to measures taken from sites that hadn’t been disturbed in the past 167 years, the researchers were able to gain insights into how disturbance histories influence forest soils. The results of the study are detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Bowd said the team’s findings show that forest soils recover from disturbances slowly over many years — up to 80 years following a wildfire and as many as 30 years after logging, much longer than previously thought. In other words, both natural and human disturbances can have long-lasting effects on forest soils, potentially impacting plant communities and ecosystem health for decades.

During high-intensity forest fires, soil temperatures can top 500 degrees Celsius (932 degrees Fahrenheit), which leads to the loss of soil nutrients, Bowd explained. Meanwhile, logging exposes the forest floor, compacts soils, and alters soil structure in ways that can also reduce vital soil nutrients. And these declines grow more severe as forests experience instances of fire and logging repeatedly without having sufficient time between disturbances to fully recover.

More >>.

Photo: Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests in Australia. Photo Credit: Tabitha Boyer, ANU


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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... shingles

Shaun walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Shaun said: 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

Fifteen minutes later a nurse’s aide came out and asked Shaun what he had ….

Shaun said, 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Shaun to wait in the examining room.

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Shaun what he had. Shaun said, 'Shingles.' So the nurse gave Shaun a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Shaun to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and found Shaun sitting patiently in the nude and asked Shaun what he had. Shaun said, ‘Shingles.'

The doctor asked, 'Where?'

Shaun said, 'Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload them?'

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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