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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore

    Editor

    Supply Chain Digest



 
Dec. 14, 2018

A Supply Chain Christmas Wish List for 2018

From Amazon not Taking Over the World to More Practical Supply Chain Research by Academics, Gilmore Offers Santa his List

For the past many years, for my last First Thoughts column of the year I have generally been oscillating between my versions of "A Supply Chain Christmas Carol" and "Twas the Night Before a Supply Chain Christmas," updated as appropriate from year to year.

Occasionally I also throw in a supply chain Christmas list that I hope Santa might deliver in the coming year. So I decided to offer that list again here in 2018, with a couple of holdovers from the 2016 list, because frankly Santa still hasn't come through (maybe I am on the naughty list?). It is a short list, but think would have a major impact if Santa could somehow fill up my supply chain stocking.


Gilmore Says....

You don't have to go to many events to figure out who the frequent contributor companies are.

What do you say?

Click here to send us your comments
 

Would love to hear an item or two on your supply chain wish list as well. So here we go:

I wish that Amazon doesn't take over the world.

We are avid Amazon shoppers here, and like so many addicted to Prime. Last week, I ordered something on a Sunday, and it just shows up on Tuesday – for free. What a world.

But Amazon's growth and dominance is obviously a bit frightening, and the advantage of its incredible fulfillment network, already being augmented with its own planes, trains and automobiles (and drones) may be such competitive barrier no one can compete – unless you use Fulfilled by Amazon.

What's the answer? No idea, but even more huge changes are coming to the retail (and consumer goods) landscape. Amazon may put Santa himself out of business.

I wish that MAPI – the Manufacturing Alliance and others are right that 3D printing and what MAPI called "digital distribution" (think Amazon) will in fact transform the US manufacturing landscape and really bring production back to US soil, in a way that the reshoring move has at best modestly accomplished, and do from a market-driven perspective, not tariffs and trade wars.

I wish we had more recognized supply chain thought leaders. Quick, if I asked you to name the top thought leaders in supply chain right now, whom would you cite? It's not easy, is it? Isn't something not quite right with that?

In many disciplines, for example IT, there are many recognized thought leaders who regularly are the keynote speakers at major industry events. I don't think supply chain has ever reached that level of star power, but I think 15 years or so ago we did have more recognized supply chain pundits.

What's the issue? I am not completely sure. A once healthy corps of thought leading academics seems to not have been replaced with a new cohort of equal thought leadership, i.e., a Tom Mentzer of University of Tennessee passes away and no one seems to move into the void (agree or disagree?). Supply chain executives, with very few exceptions, either don't wish to or are largely prohibited by their companies from being regular public face (we need more Reuben Slones). I wish we could more regularly hear what those execs are thinking.

The supply chain practice leaders of major consulting firms, for many out in front of supply chain trends and opportunities, have now largely gone underground – I actually know who very few of them even are, and that didn't use to be the case.

As an example, who currently heads Accenture's or Deloitte's giant supply chain practices? I don't know, and doubt most of you do either, compared to say the years when say the late Bill Copacino was consistently providing thought leadership when he was in that role. My friend Jim Tompkins is still thought leading, but he has a lot of business irons in the fire right now and seems to have slowed down a bit on the thought leadership side.

There has been consolidation among industry analyst firms, reducing the pool and competition, while it seems that among those still standing the systems no longer really develop "stars" in the same way they used to. And it seems to me technology vendors aren't producing thought leaders the way they use to either (think Alan Dabbiere at Manhattan Associates, or Sanjiv Sidhu at i2, in their days).

On a somewhat related note, I wish a lot more supply chain academic research would be truly useful. We have a lot of really smart supply chain and logistics academics, and I know many of them personally. But far too few of them are using those talents to produce research that is of practical use to supply chain professionals. It is often almost unreadable except to other academics, if then. There is the CSCMP Journal of Business Logistics, for example. Is that of any real value to the practioner? Wish it was more so, along with other academic outlets and research.

I will note that 2016 CSCMP Distinguished Service Award winner Chris Caplice of MIT offered similar thoughts in his brief acceptance speech.

Yes, I understand this is far from unique to supply chain, and indeed is probably the status in virtually every academic discipline. I also get the whole "public or perish" thing in academia.

However, at many if not most supply chain departments an academic would actually get more credit for tenure or promotion for some abstruse paper in a journal none of us recognize or would want to read than for an article on supply chain that was published in the Harvard Business Review. This is crazy.

I discussed this topic with the late legend Dr. Don Bowersox of Michigan State a number of years ago, and he told he knew of one excellent academic who wasn't hired at a prestigious supply chain program because his research was deemed too "applied" - meaning practical.

We can do better, can't we? We are collectively losing so much opportunity.

I wish that more companies contributed presentations and case studies at industry conferences. Here is the reality: there is a clear 80-20 rule here, in which a small percentage of total companies wind up carrying the majority of the industry load.

Of course, I get the issues with opening the supply chain kimono, and companies are understandably reluctant to share what they believe are competitive advantages. But let me in on a little secret: employees change jobs, vendors and consultants talk, etc. Your competitors already know what you are doing. It's the rest of is that need enlightenment.

You don't have to go to many events to figure out who the frequent contributor companies are. From my perspective, in recent years those include Caterpillar, Intel, Pepsico, Mondelez International, HP, Johnson & Johnson, and a handful of other over performers (who else?). If you have a company to point out for their regular contributions or want to toot your own horn, please let me know.

We all owe these frequent contributors a debt of gratitude, and we really couldn't have these conferences without them. We need more companies in the supply chain presentation boat.

I wish supply chain media and conferences focused more attention on the supply chain needs and opportunities for small and medium sized companies. For a variety of reasons, the publications and the conferences tend to focus on the large, well-known companies, due to that name recognition.

But the reality is there are many times more small and medium sized companies than there are Fortune 500 firms, and collectively (including SCDigest) we don't in my opinion do enough to serve them.

In talking about this with a good and well-known friend a few years ago, he noted that big company supply chain challenges are usually just a lot more interesting than those faced by smaller firms. I agree with that, but at the same time, how those challenges were solved by large companies are often not relevant to SMBs.

Do you agree that articles and events need more balance to address the supply chains of small and medium size businesses? This is something SCDigest at least can address in some way, and I am working on some plans to do so.

On that note, a Merry Christmas or other salutation of choice to all SCDigest readers. Lots in store for 2019. We're off for two weeks for this newsletter, but the home page will be active with news, and we will be back the first week of January with our 2018 supply chain review.

Look for Jim Stephens and I doing Twas a Night before a Supply Chain Christmas this Monday on our Supply Chain Video news. Happy Holidays!

What do you think of Gilmore's Christmas list? What is on your list? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.



Your Comments/Feedback

Srihari

Senior Consultant, Infosys
Posted on: May, 22 2016
Great article. I am a little suprised not to see BNSF in the mix while I understand their financial mode/operation is a little different. 

That would only give a complete perspective with all the players in the pool.

Mike O'Brien

Senior editor, Access Intelligence
Posted on: May, 26 2016
Surprised to see Home Depot fall off the list; thought they were winning with Sync?

Julie Leonard

Marketing Director, Inovity
Posted on: Jun, 27 2016
Using the right tool for the right job has always been a best practice and one of the reasons, we feel, that RFID has never taken off in the DC as exponentially as pundits have been forecasting since 2006. While these results may seem surprising to those solely focused on barcode scanning, the adoption of multi-modal technologies in the DC makes perfect sense for greater worker efficiency and productivity.

Carsten Baumann

Strategic Alliance Manager, Schneider Electric
Posted on: Aug, 19 2016

The IoT Platform in this year's (2016) Hype Cycle is on the ascending side, entering the "Peak of Inflated Expectation" area. How does this compare to the IoT positions of the previous years, which have already peaked in 2015? Isn't this contradicting in itself?

Editor's Note: 

You are right, Internet of Things (IoT) was at the top of the Garter new technology hype curve not long ago. As you noted, however, this time the placement was for “IoT Platforms,” a category of software tools from a good number of vendors to manage connectivity, data communications and more with IoT-enabled devices in the field.

So, this is different fro IoT generally, though a company deploying connected things obviously needs some kind of platform – hoe grown or acquired – to manage those functions.

Why IoT generically is not on the curve this year I wondered myself.

 

 

Jo Ann Tudtud-Navalta

Materials Management Manager, Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu City, Philippines
Posted on: Aug, 21 2016

I agree totally with Mr. Schneider.

I have always lived by "put it in writing" all my work life.  I am a firm believer of the many benefits of putting everything in writing and I try to teach it to as many people as I can.

This "putting in writing" can also be used for almost anything else.  Here are some general benefits (only some) of "putting in writing":

1. Everything is better understood between parties involved.  There are lots of people types who need something visual to improve their understanding.
2. Everyone can read to review and correct anything misunderstood.  This will ensure that all parties concerned confirm the details of the agreements as correct.  This is further enhanced by having all parties involved sign off on a hard copy or confirm via reply email.
3. Everything has a proof.  Not to belittle the element of trust among parties involved, it is always safest to have tangible proof of what was agreed on.
4. There will be a document to refer to at any time by any one who needs clarification.
5. The documentation can be useful historical data for any future endeavor.  It provides inputs for better decisions on related situations in the future.
6. This can also be compiled and used to teach future new team members.  "Learn from the past" it is said.

There are many more benefits.  Mr. Schneider is very correct about his call to "put it in writing".





Sandy Montalbano

Consultant, Reshoring Initiative
Posted on: Aug, 24 2016
U.S. companies are reshoring and foreign companies are investing in U.S. locations to be in close proximity to the U.S. market for customer responsiveness, flexibility, quality control, and for the positive branding of "Made in USA".

Reshoring including FDI balanced offshoring in 2015 as it did in 2014. In comparison, in 2000-2007 the U.S. lost net about 200,000 manufacturing jobs per year to offshoring. That is huge progress to celebrate!

The Reshoring Initiative Can Help. In order to help companies decide objectively to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. or offshore, the nonprofit Reshoring Initiative's free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator can help corporations calculate the real P&L impact of reshoring or offshoring. http://www.reshorenow.org/TCO_Estimator.cfm

Robert

Transportation Manager, N/A
Posted on: Aug, 30 2016
 Good article!  I am sending this to my colleagues who work with me.  We have to keep this in mind.  Thanks!

Ian Jansen

Mr, NHLS
Posted on: Sep, 14 2016
SCM is all about getting the order delivered to the Customer on date/ time requested because happy Customers = Revenue. Using the right tools to do the right job is important and SCM is heavily dependent on sophisticated ERP systems to get right real data info ASP.

I've worked in a DC with more than 400,000 line items and measured the Productivity of Pickers by how many "picks" per day.

I've learned that one doesn't have to remind Germany about your EDI orders.

Don Benson

Partner, Warehouse Coach
Posted on: Sep, 15 2016
Challenge - to build and sustain effective relationships at the level of the organizations that are responsible for effectively coordinating and colaborating in an otherwise highly competitive environment 

Jade

Admin, Fulfillment Logistics UK Ltd
Posted on: Oct, 02 2016
Of course we all need to up our game. We need to move with the times, and always be one step ahead of what the future will bring.

Mike Dargis

President of asset-based carrier based in the Midwest, Zip Xpress Inc. (at ZipXpress.net)
Posted on: Oct, 03 2016
Thanks for the article, but I know there's a lot more to this issue than just the pay rates. Please check out my blogs on the subject at www.zipxpress.net.

Blaine

Inventory Specialist, Syncron
Posted on: Nov, 16 2016
Lora, great article! I agree that companies choose the 'safe' solution more often than not. My solution is a bolt-on for legacy ERP's and we even face challeneges of customer adoption. Most like to play it safe and choose an ERP upgrade, which is more costly, time consuming, and has lower ROI across the board. Would love to learn more about your company, we are always looking for partnerships.

Blaine
blaine.schultz@syncron.com

Bob McIntyre

National Account Executive, DBK Concepts LLC
Posted on: Nov, 21 2016
This is a game changer in GE's production and prototyping.  It also has huge implications across the GE global supply chain with regard to the management of their support and spare parts network. 

Kai Furmans

Professor, KIT
Posted on: May, 22 2017
I am referencing to the comment that leasing of warehousing equipment (beyond forklift trucks) is a vision for 2030.
Just recently in Europe, such a business model has started, see here: https://next-intralogistics.de/

I am following with a lot of interest, how the business develops.

Stuart Rosenberg

Supply Chain Consultant, First Choice Supply Chain
Posted on: Jun, 05 2017
If we limit the standard on judging or determining the best supply chain to just three calculations it does not tell the entire picture.  Financial performance metrics are valuable as they capture the economic consequences of business decisions.  But supply chain managers make decsions and use organizational resources that impact a company's financial well being.  Where is a firm's earnings over a period of time determined by sales less product costs and general/adminsitrative costs?  Where is the metric for determining the sources and uses of cash from three perspectives - operational, investment and financial?  Where are these supply chain metrics: on-time delivery, lead time, response time to customers, product returns, procurement costs, network distance, inventory carrying costs, forecasting accuracy, sourcing time, etc,.  Without knowing the results of all these supply chain calculations the there must be a question as to the accuracy of the 25 top supply chains.

Dustin Calitz

Project Commercialization Manager, Mondelez
Posted on: Jun, 06 2017
I feel this ranking misses the mark in SC. It does not seem to consider a key indicator in days inventory on hand, which is key to determining a SC company's ability to forecast, manage inventory costs and reduce aged stock. In additiion I realize it's difficult to understand what goes into the customer survey, but would I assume specific metrics are being asked. For examples customer's opinion on service level differentiation and the ability to deliver the right product on time, which should then be allocated a bigger weighting than 10%. It would also be interesting to take a view of the above list's SKU portfolio complexity, seasonality and launches/promotions. I would again assume some companies on the list above have a far more complex SC to manage and lead, ultimately requiring a lot more innovation within a SC to stay ahead of competitors, and ultimately satisfy their customers demands.  I understand above metrics are difficult to measure, as mentioned in the article, but they somehow need to be considered to give a true reflection. 

Michael Hurd

Lean Consultant, Unemployed
Posted on: Jun, 10 2017

A Very Good Article...

While some feel that lean is a scam that pushes for more out of the personnel and out of the companies through reduction of waste and adding value for the customer, there are several things to remember:

1) Lean methodologies are designed and implemented to reduce time wasting, so this may seem that you are working harder as an employee.

2) Lean methdoligies only work when everyone from the janitor to the owner of the company get involved and back the program.

3) Lean methods are there to make you work smarter not harder, although it may feel you are working harder.

4) YES... Sometimes lean methodologies fail! This is due to project overun or taking on too large a problem and trying to fix it all in one go and not taking the smaller problems that are associated with the large problem and fixing them first. Sometimes fixing the small problems leads to resolution of the larger problem.

Akhil

Director Supply Chain , skuchain
Posted on: Jul, 31 2017
The Supply Chain technology is not considered a problem because traditionally supply chains are thought to be cost centres unlike sales functions. The tendency, in general, to limit expenses and cost cutting on upgrades for technology and for talent have been hindering progress for the businesses. Supply chains lack real time visbility and above all trust across the value chain (not that the participants are dishonest) rather it's about the cascading effects referred to as the bull-whip effect which causes higher magnitudes of disruptions. 

Supply chain real time information should top the list .

Another problem is that of multi homing as so much data is available across several feeds of IOT/Email/Internet /Mobility/ERP that organisations tend to have issues around finding a single platform to collate them for meaning analysis. 

Blockchain (if deployed appropriately) can be a great solution for solving the issues around the supply chain.

Mike Ledyard

Vested Program Faculty, Vested Way / University ofTennessee
Posted on: Aug, 04 2017
Excellent article.  It very much points to the need for Shared Risk / Shared Reward as we teach at Vested.  Suppliers will respond when they are made part of the team, and they have a lot to bring to the game.  The service provider is the subject matter expert in the services provided, and in an excellent position to enhance the capabilities and services offered by the shipper.

Andrew Downard

Managing Director, AD Supply Chain Group Pty Ltd
Posted on: Aug, 05 2017
As the article points out it is not a lack of technology that is holding back performance but rather a failure to form the right sort of relationships.  As well as the length of such relatiohships, practitioners should consider employing arrangements that incentivise both parties to innovate and deliver levels of performance and profit that neither thought possible.  By far the best model I have come across to achieve this is the Vested Outsourcing model developed by researchers from the University of Tennessee.  See www.vestedway.com for information on the model and case studies that show how others have benefited from creating a Vested deal.

Najma

logistics, threelineshipping
Posted on: Aug, 23 2017
Very informational article. The major focus of logistics is on e-commerce. There is a need to optimize every component of logistics by following the latest trends and technologies. Thanks for uploading this article.

Sameer Shukkla

Consulting Partner, Wipro Inc.
Posted on: Sep, 17 2017
I have recently co-authored a white paper with my colleague wherein we have looked at 2 fundamental guiding principles  -

1. Always have enough to Sell / Produce
2. Do not have excess to Sell / Produce

These 2 Golden Rules can be the foundation of keeping optimal inventory levels and for organizations to achieve the same. We have looked at a framework which tries to reduce the phase mismatch between Demand & Supply, and tries to bring the shape of the supply curve closer to shape of the demand curve.

We have classified symptoms and underlying root causes for the above "Phase mismatch" and "Curve Mismatch" between Demand and Supply, and then talked about addresssing those individual root causes to strive towards Leaner Inventory levels while maintaining or improving service levels.

So to answer your question, we feel the Companies which have addresed these causes have been able to keep DIO horizontal or even going down, while others have not been able to control rising DIO because of not addressing the root causes.

Simon Eagle

SCM Consultant, Camelot MC
Posted on: Sep, 17 2017
You ask why turns are flat or declining despite lots of attention and technology. The answer is, I think, 2 fold: the supply chain environments VUCA (Volatliity, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is on a continuous upward curve and this means that forecast accuracy inevitably declines in parallel - and much of that inaccuracy is hidden by the statistics. For instance a company with, seemingy good, 80% mix accuracy will find that figure is skewed so high by the few high volume / low variability items. 80% of the items will be achieving considerably less than 60% error.

So most item level forecasts used for driving replenishment through an MPS (be it ERP or APS) are simply leading to unbalanced stocks, service threats and continuous expediting / fire-fighting. These schedule interrutions are "variability" that is disrupting flow and, thereby, increasing lead-times, using unplanned capacity and generating excessive (and still unbalanced) inventories.

The replacement in ex-stock supply chains is "enterprise(s)-wide" pull which also uses "push" for extreme/exceptional events. Its other key characteristics are that the supply chain is decoupled and is demand-driven. And now it can be implemented using SAP since they announced they they have co-developed an enhancement for IBP that supports this transformational way of working - up to 50% inventory reduction, requiring less capacity and shorter lead-times all while achieving planned service levels. See https://www.camelot-itlab.com/en/camelot-demand-driven-lean-planning-suite-for-sap/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/supply-chain-flow-what-why-how-simon-eagle/


John Smith

Research & Development, Octopus Tech Solutions
Posted on: Sep, 18 2017
IoT is without a doubt starting to become a major factor in the profitability of various companies. In the manufacturing sector, we will see it come into the front by the end of 2020 completely. Various sectors have already adapted IoT solutions like the security industry or companies offering BPO Services India. Contact centers not just in India and China but across the world have adapted technology following the principles of IoT. The manufacturing sector is soon going to follow.

Girish Maniyar

Chief Manager Development Initiatives, Asian Paints
Posted on: Sep, 28 2017
I  can speak with some context. While efficiency and tools can reduce inventory, we also see the number of SKUs and new products increasing, and also the number of sales/depot points. This means the inventory in such cases, can start with very high number and with more customization and choices available to the consumer, so there is no end to the long tail of products available within a category. It is unlikely that the slow/dead goods are written off so easily to be not included here.

A larger question, would it be purely an IO problem or also a Demand Planning (Forecast Error) problem? A higher cycle time of service but a better fill rate can improve inventory performance, by aggregation. But a bad forecast can do away all the good work you do in inventory planning.

Do you have numbers for decorative coatings in the list? I did not see something there only for decorative coatings.



Reo B Hatfield

Chief Operating Executive , BestTransport
Posted on: Oct, 20 2017
My opinion is that peaks and valley are just nice graphics to explain.  Smooth responses save the day.   3PLs  just adjust to the climate and the areas of movement of Logistics.    One purpose of the 3PL movement was to adjust to an always changing market.   They will never be fixed and will flex as the logistics changes.   3PL companies have vast knowledge of their business.  Their success is their ability to move up and down as the market flows.  They bring a level playing field to the transportation world that in the past was rigid but looked good on spreadsheets.  Industry graphic personnel like to be able to answer all the changes because they can only see documents.  3PLs see the needs, the issues, the positive changes and the knowledge to know why and when to adjust.   They (3PLs) have smoothed the waves of the past and everybody likes to see the spikes so they know something is there to clearly report on. Smooth sailing is boring but sure gets you where you want to go. 

Catherine Dennis

Supply Chain Manager, Indak Mfg Corp
Posted on: Oct, 26 2017
So the horrific and severe worldwide allocation of electronic components is not an issue?  Don't tell that to the automotive buyers.  It's HORRIBLE.  Lead times out to up to 76 weeks.  Why not write about that?  It's killing us, our customers and the big automakers.   

Huub

Logistics Manager, Shell
Posted on: Nov, 11 2017
I suggest McKinsey to do a bit more research in Prof Gattorna’s dynamic alignment. This article only scratches the surface a tiny bit. Much more to be found reading about the alignment concept.

Joseph George

Farmer, Field Vista
Posted on: Dec, 07 2017
Primarily Vision is required followed by Assigned Focus on objectives.  Or maybe just love for USA.  The market will not find its way unless it's for organic vegetables and RRR.  Two to three years later will take two to three years longer to the end of the decade, and this is viable today.  God bless america from its present distraction.

Gary Buchs

Owner Operator , Self, Landstar Business Capacity Owner
Posted on: Dec, 17 2017
In My Opinion, the fact that capacity will tighten should be obvious to everyone engaged in the transportation. 
Capacity to move freight isn’t how many trucks or trailers are in the system or what a computer 
program says, it still is truck driver based and poorly-managed companies won’t be able to imporove
this fact.  Investing in people is still most important!

Get ready to pay higher prices for goods and services. I think we could lose 10% of Capacity in many areas. 

Dan

Pres., Bioptechs
Posted on: Dec, 20 2017
After all the ground we have lost in the productive sector and the additional burden that loss of our productive momentum has placed on our society, somebody tell me why so many people are against the actions necessary to restore our vital productive infrastructure! It is like the left enjoys shooting itself in the foot!

Jayaram

Business Development, Raghava Logistics
Posted on: Mar, 04 2018
Great article and thank you for summerizing the predications. 

What does it mean to country like India where the labour is still cheap? Where the logistics cost is still on the higher side compared to some of the developed nations?

Herb Shields

President , HCS Consulting
Posted on: Mar, 06 2018

 I agree that robots can replace some amount of manual labor in logistics centers.  However as you mention, the labor pool is shrinking.  We need more training programs such as the one provided by the Greater West Town organization in Chicago.   Www.gwtp.org.  (It is a program that your readers should find interesting.)

Billy

Associate, BJO
Posted on: Mar, 13 2018
Thanks for this very informative article.

Doug Murless

Country Manager, krunchbox (www.krunchbox.com)
Posted on: Mar, 18 2018

Gone are the days when consumers will wait for a retailer to have the product back in stock, those days are done. We live in the "I want it now" society and with Amazon in their pocket consumers can easily "now" it to themself the next day right from their phone.

The importance of product availability is under the microscope at all retailers as an empty shelf equals lost customers, a poor customer experience and entirely abandoned purchases.

We are on a mission at krunchbox to help suppliers fix their product availability and sell thru and improve their buyer relationships, hopefully before their retail partner fines start rolling in and or we see more retailers close.

NikhilSingh

Executive, Carmatec INC
Posted on: Mar, 21 2018
You are correct There are government programs to encourage investment at small and mid-size manufacturers, but McKinsey says these programs generally have smaller budgets, less certainty of ongoing funding, and more constraints on their mandates than comparable programs in other countries. Policy makers should examine which existing initiatives are producing the most promising results, then scale up those efforts and commit to them for the long term.

Mike Mortson

CEO, Supply Chain Game Changer
Posted on: Jun, 15 2018
I wrote a similar article on supplychaingamechanger.com about the same topic:  Gartner's 2018 Top 25 Supply Chain List!  Is it Still Relevant?  at https://supplychaingamechanger.com/gartners-2018-to…t-still-relevant/
 
 
 
 

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