5 Power-User Features To Help with Shipping Spikes (Pt 2)

Shipping spikes can be tricky to manage, whether they are predictable by season or impact your business without warning. Since many shippers seem to have some types of volume spikes to manage, we thought we’d spend a few posts covering some power-user features that might help you put the hammer down when you need a productivity boost. Today’s post includes a 3 minute video demo and is focused on using Pacejet as a shipping engine to quickly process shipments without any UI (aka user interface).

Read on to see the 3 minute Demo Video and learn more …

Using the Pacejet Shipping Engine with No UI

The Pacejet user interface is useful to help shippers drive processes, record detail, make decisions, access reports and data, and more. Sometimes the user interface in any software can get in the way, however, and that’s where the Pacejet option of shipping without a user interface can come in handy (sometimes called “headless operation” by some software … though we prefer “no UI”). Today’s demonstration focuses on two use-cases for no-UI shipping, one working on batches of orders and another an “instant ship” process.

When and How Would I Apply It?

You’re not locked into using either no-UI or UI-driven shipping in your business, you can mix and match to meet your specific needs. Our experience has been that many shippers have various types of customers, programs, products, or geographies that generate variations in their shipping patterns. So think of no-UI shipping as just another tool to help you align more efficient shipping with the demands of your growing business.

Learn More

Pacejet is the leading cloud-based shipping platform and carrier network, helping shippers reduce costs and improve service. Learn more at www.pacejet.com. Subscribe to blogs.pacejet.com via email to save time (click here).

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5 Power-User Features To Help with Shipping Spikes (Pt 1)

Pacejet users ship a wide range of products from electronics to packaged food, a diversity that results in some interesting differences in seasonal shipping spikes. For shippers in retail, for example, spring-time is often very busy and the summer cools down. On the other hand, outdoor product shippers often send out thousands of shipments during the summer. Since many shippers seem to have some types of volume spikes to manage, we thought we’d spend the next few posts covering a few power-user features that might help you put the hammer down when you need a productivity boost.

Read on for more information …

Shortcuts to Pacejet Shipping Tools

Many web browsers, cloud applications, and ERP systems like NetSuite offer a built-in shortcuts feature to save frequently visited pages in a convenient list. One of the simplest productivity boosts for any user is to simply add groups of shortcuts to key Pacejet shipping resources.  Add a link to the Shipping Home Page for easy access to stats throughout the day, a link to the Shipment Summary Report so you can easily get a full days list of shipments exported to Excel, or a link to the Search Shipments Page to quickly find/track any shipment. Don’t forget that Pacejet also has a favorites feature, so users who don’t regularly login to other systems can also organize their frequently used pages and resources.

Shortcuts to Shipping Workbench Tabs

While shortcuts to frequently used pages are a time-saver, the ability to save shortcuts to “saved searches” is an even bigger productivity booster. For example, the “Tabs” on the Pacejet shipping workbench (e.g. Today, UPS, etc…) are really “saved searches” configured to filter the shipping workbench to look at specific types of staged shipments. When you save a shortcut to the shipping workbench you can actually include a searchtab (e.g. of the form like “http://appn.pacejet.cc/DemoNetSuite/Content/Transactions/Workbench.aspx?searchTab=today”) to have the shortcut load the Workbench and run the search.

Shortcuts to Saved Templates for Rate and Ship Page

Another handy shortcut to “dynamic content” is available by using standard shortcuts (saved in NetSuite, Pacejet, or anywhere else) which reference the Rate and Ship Page with a pre-defined “saved template”.  For example, if you regularly find yourself running a freight quote or processing a miscellaneous shipment of pallets to a location you can define a saved template with the details using a name like “LTL from Main to ABC”.  With the template saved, you can create a shortcut (of a form like “http://appn.pacejet.cc/DemoNetSuite/Content/Transactions/RateShip.aspx?RateQuoteName=LTL%20from%20Main%20to%20ABC”) to activate the Rate and Ship Page, load the predefined template, and then edit/change anyway you want before proceeding with the transaction.

Learn More

Pacejet is the leading cloud-based shipping platform and carrier network, helping shippers reduce costs and improve service. Learn more at www.pacejet.com. Subscribe to blogs.pacejet.com via email to save time (click here).

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How Doing Less Math Gives You Better Freight Quotes

Calculating the cost of an LTL shipment actually involves an annoying amount of math. It’s not calculus but freight calculations usually involve large tables of data, NMFC code to freight class conversations, zip code coverage checks, fuel surcharges, service fee additions, etc… Software can seem to make life a littler easier but if the tools you use are still managing static data and automating the pricing math, then your freight quotes may be way off!

Read on to see a video demo of how Pacejet gets more accurate freight quote results without all the math …

Let the Carriers Do the Math

One of the “less than obvious” features of older shipping software (whether it’s on-premise, hosted, or even some cloud/websites) is that the prices you see during LTL, Parcel, or 3PL freight quoting or shipping are not “real-time” rates. Because older software for freight quoting and shipping often uses static tariff data and rating rules written in the software, locally managed data and pricing logic can quickly become out of date (e.g. fuel, surcharges, etc…) resulting in price calculations with errors. Unlike older software, Pacejet connects to carriers directly, in real-time, using your contracts to retrieve quotes. Pacejet sends all carriers the details of your planned shipment in parallel, they “do the math” in their systems, and results are returned in real-time.

Demonstration of Pacejet Freight Quoting for LTL

Take a closer look at how “less math” can deliver “more accuracy” in today’s video demo of Pacejet. The 5 minute demo showcases LTL freight quoting through several different ERP transaction types around the lifecycle of an order.

Learn More

Pacejet is the leading cloud-based shipping platform and carrier network, helping shippers reduce costs and improve service. Learn more at www.pacejet.com. Subscribe to blogs.pacejet.com via email to save time (click here).
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Easier Access to Shipping Data Can Help You Grow

Sometimes difficulties in capturing and using key types of shipping data can increase costs, trigger charge-back fees from customers, or even keep your sales team from landing that next big customer. Today’s post includes a demo video showing expanded shipping data recorded in the NetSuite ERP system; what’s included, what it looks like, and how it might be useful to help you take on new challenges as your business changes and grows over time.

Read on for more …

New Data Needs for Your Growing Business

If your business is changing, growing, or expanding, then there is a good chance you’ll need access to a richer, more complete range of data about shipments as you send them out the door each day. Maybe you need container identifiers with item contents detail for your Advanced Ship Notice (ASN) transmissions. Or perhaps one of your most important customers has asked you to start printing UCC128 labels and transmitting ASN EDI with SSCC values (Serial Shipping Container Code). While the triggering business issues might be different, the result is the same need to adapt your systems to capture, manage, and use some new type of data as an integrated part of your shipping process.

Video Demo of Expanded Shipping Data for Your ERP

If you’ve used Pacejet for awhile or are just getting started, then you know that a broad range of data is captured and managed as you process shipments. Features like packing help you capture container ID’s, contents, dimensions, weight, and freight class information. Multi-carrier and multi-mode functionality (e.g. Parcel, LTL, 3PL) captures costs, prices, freight terms, tracking numbers, labels, and more. While standard Pacejet integrations often record much of the extra data managed in the shipping process into discrete fields in your ERP, it’s not always possible or efficient to break out every type of expanded data into custom ERP fields. As today’s demo video shows, the good news is that Pacejet provides a mechanism to publish an expanded and extensible set of shipping data into your ERP to support advanced use-cases such as EDI, customer compliance, and more.

Learn More

Pacejet is the leading cloud-based shipping platform and carrier network, helping shippers reduce costs and improve service. Learn more at www.pacejet.com. Subscribe to blogs.pacejet.com via email to save time (click here).
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Next Stop…PowerPlex 2015

We’re excited to be back at PowerPlex June 29- July 1 at the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Resort. This event is the largest gathering of Plex users, prospects, partners and industry thought leaders that gather to learn about new developments shaping the manufacturing industry and discover the full potential of the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.

We’ll be showcasing new modules and enhancements to our shipping solution, including features in our upcoming release.  (Missed our post about all the great stuff we’re rolling out?  Check out the blog post that gives you the highlights.)

If you’re a Plex user attending the conference, be sure to stop by Booth 2, say hello, and we’ll talk about how we can make your shipping process easier.

Pacejet’s seamless integration with many ERPs, including Plex, give shippers the advantage of a more efficient shipping process and overall reduced shipping costs.

Not going to PowerPlex and have questions?  Contact us today at 866-722-3538 or send us an email.

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Shipping News Update for Early Summer

E-commerce continues to crush it, multi-channel / omni-channel is a “thing” for B2B, and shipping will cost more during the 2015 holiday season. Today’s post covers interesting news to-date in 2015 that shippers will want to keep an eye on. Top of the list includes rising freight volumes, e-commerce sales growth of 14.5% compared to last year, and a prediction that B2B e-commerce market share will double over the next 5 years.

Read on for more news for shippers …

Freight Volume in the U.S. Continues to Rise

JOC.com reported in June that U.S. freight shipments increased 2.3% to hit a high point in May. Compared with May of last year, volume and expenditures were down but transportation equipment orders increased 13.5% in March and a big year-over-year drop in fuel prices helped hold down shipper costs. According to the report, 2015 volumes and spending are higher than any of the last five years (except for 2014).

Q1 2015 E-Commerce Up 14.5% Compared to Q1 2014

The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced updated statistics in May that continue to show strong growth in U.S. e-commerce sales for the first quarter of 2015. Quarterly e-commerce sales were $80.3B, increasing 14.5% compared to last year, and total retail sales were $1.151T, up 1.6% during the same period.  After 20 years since the first recorded online commerce transaction, e-commerce sales now represent 7% of total sales up from 6.2% for the first quarter of 2014.

Forrester Predicts B2B E-Commerce to Reach 12.1% of Total

Forrester recently announced a US B2B Forecast for 2015 to 2020 describing how B2B ecommerce will grow from $780B in 2015 to $1.13T in 2020. The report highlights petroleum/petroleum-based and drugs and pharmacy as some of the largest categories today but that fastest-growing categories include durable goods including vehicles, vehicle parts, electrical and electronic products, industrial machinery and parts. Widespread mobile use is accelerating online research and ordering and the opportunity to reduce costs of serving and selling customers are driving the growth. Several research reports have also shown that customers spend more per order and in total and are more loyal when engaging across “multiple channels”.

Holiday Shipping Shaping Up to Cost More

The Wall Street Journal recently posted several stories indicating that UPS will end some shipping discounts for larger retailers over the holidays. This news, along with other indications that carriers are sticking to their rules to charge by volume as well as weight, seems to indicate holiday shipping will be more expensive in 2015.

Temperature-Controlled Shipping is Booming

Expectations of a 100%+ increase in purchasing of drugs that require temperature-controlled shipping is leading carriers like UPS and DHL to invest in “cold logistics” network capabilities to handle the new opportunities. This continues an ongoing trend of specialty logistics services to handle the specific shipping needs for various types of products.

Traditional Retailers Fight Back Against Online Only

CNBC recently reported that traditional retailers are starting to catch up to online brands. The report suggests that brick-and-mortar supply chains can be as much as 3x less expensive than online-only. As you might expect, leaders are those selling more expensive goods that appeal to higher-end shoppers.

FedEx Reported Earnings Miss But Still Growing

Although the FedEx earnings announcement failed to live up to analysts expectations, there was continued revenue and volume growth. Ground revenues increased 19% to $3.6B, overall U.S. volume grew 2%, and freight increased 1% to $1.57B.

Learn More

Pacejet is the leading cloud-based shipping platform and carrier network, helping shippers reduce costs and improve service. Learn more at www.pacejet.com. Subscribe to blogs.pacejet.com via email to save time (click here).

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Pacejet 15.3 Update Includes New Features and Integration

The Pacejet version 15.3 update is coming soon and will include new features and integration refinements. Upgrades include a brand new reprint page, new print connector status/control page, improved workbench sync support (pre-release), a plumbing upgrade to support enhanced NetSuite WMS integration, and more. Look for an in-app message notification for version 15 users shortly, the currently planned upgrade window is 8p-11p EDT on Saturday 6-27.

Read on for more information on Pacejet 15.3 version update.

New Reprint Page and Controls

The recent Pacejet Blogs post on “Cloud Printing” announced the enhanced reprint control page. We’re excited to bring this refinement and simplification to make selecting and reprinting of labels or paperwork easier. Hopefully reprints don’t happen often but when they are needed, you’ll find the process straight forward and more easily controlled.

New Print Connector Status Page

The new print connector status page in 15.3 provides an easy way to monitor one or more print connectors in your setup. Tools include license status and visibility to the latest date-time that a print job was handled by each connector. Existing print connectors remain compatible but a print connector update will need to be applied separately from this release to support the new monitoring detail.

Enhanced Ship Workbench Sync Management

This latest update also includes a new optimization of the workbench sync feature for greater throughput. One of the major improvements here is to leverage load balancing and server capacity for faster overall throughput. Because this is a fairly significant change to the sync mechanisms, the activation in customer environments is key controlled and will be managed customer by customer.

Core Platform Support for NetSuite WMS

A key update included in the Pacejet 15.3 release is internal support for the NetSuite WMS solution for warehouse management. This sets the stage for a NetSuite integration upgrade to make available enhanced integration for the new NetSuite warehouse solution. NetSuite WMS users should stay tuned for the final integration release and features.

Standard UCC128 Labels Release

In a previous blog post (Retail Labels) we announced pre-release support for a new UCC128 labeling feature. This update releases a standard configuration of this new labeling option. Contact a Pacejet solution consultant for assistance in setup and use of this new packing and labeling feature.

Refinements for Combined Pack Slip and Ship Label

Several previous blog posts described the new combined packing slip and shipping label templates (e.g. Combined Pack Slip and Ship Label). This latest release of Pacejet incorporates some refinements and officially releases the feature as a standard configuration option.

Drill to “As Quoted” in Shipment Savings Report

If you missed our post on the Shipment Savings Report, you may want to go back and take a closer look at the information it provides. One of the new features in this report is drill-down support for Delivery Orders to display the Rate and Ship screen as it looked like when the freight quote / rate shopping step was completed. This can be useful to understand why users made override choices during the shipping process.

Other Refinements and Software Corrections

A number of other refinements and software corrections are also included in this latest point release. For example, an enhancement is included to support better UPS control over payment of duties by recipients or third parties. Another refinement is a new warning feature to notify users when your subscription renewal date is approaching. A complete set of release notes will be included in the Pacejet Help system as part of the final release, please search Help for 15.3 to locate more details.

Learn More

Want more information?  Contact us today at 877-722-3538, send us an email, or visit www.pacejet.com. Visit blogs.pacejet.com to subscribe to blog emails.
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Sometimes the Cloud Helps You Print More Not Less

Cloud systems can be great at eliminating paper through process automation but cloud-based shipping software needs to achieve the opposite, helping users quickly print large quantities of labels and paperwork. Unfortunately printing from cloud software applications involves a few technical problems (like firewalls) that drive most cloud applications to use a manual PDF download and print process. That might work fine if you fulfill 20-30 shipments per day but as your shipping volume grows, you’ll want fully automated printing. Read on to learn more about automated “cloud printing” in Pacejet, including news on enhanced printing features in the upcoming Pacejet 15.3 Pacejet release.

Automated Cloud Printing in Pacejet

For shipping operations where automated printing is a must have feature, Pacejet uses a service we call the Print Connector to manage printing tasks without manual user effort. The Print Connector works by maintaining a dedicated print channel between on-premise printers and Pacejet, allowing documents and labels of various formats (e.g. ZPL, EPL, JPG, GIF, PDF, etc…) to be automatically transmitted directly to printers as shipping transactions are completed. Flexible setup means workstations can defined with a variety of equipment, print connectors can be configured centrally or decentralized, and document rules used to automate workflows for bill of lading, packing lists, carrier labels, UCC128 labels, commercial invoices, and other documents and labels.

Enhanced Reprint Feature in Pacejet 15.3

In the upcoming version 15.3 of Pacejet we’ve entirely reworked the reprint activity to make it easier for users to reprint any document or label, individually or in groups and with the same or different printers. The new reprint screen provides an on-screen viewer to easily confirm the documents or labels you need and complete a reprint. You can select one or more documents as well as choose the printers to use.

New Print Connector Administration in 15.3

Pacejet 15.3 will also introduce improved monitoring and administration of Print Connectors. A new Print Connector page shows a summary of all active print connectors, status of their license, and a “activity check-in log” that tells administrators when the last a print job was picked up by this print connector. Administrators with multiple workstations, printers, and print connectors for different sites will find this useful to easily keep tabs of activity and/or tweak setup over time to improve printer sharing and throughput.

Learn More

Want more information?  Contact us today at 877-722-3538, send us an email, or visit www.pacejet.com. Visit blogs.pacejet.com to subscribe to blog emails.

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Manage Carriers and Costs with Better Shipping Data

Complete, accurate, and up-to-date data can be a managers best friend when it comes to monitoring carrier performance and reducing shipping costs. It can be tricky to capture all of the data you need from all of your carriers in a timely and consistent way that easily supports operations reviews, carrier performance meetings, and even new carrier bid processes.

Fortunately with some upfront planning, a few systems considerations, and a little help from Pacejet, you can get the data you need to manage the analytics you want. Read on to learn more and see a video demo of the Pacejet Freight Data report for exporting data to Excel.

Data You Will Need

While the types of shipping data you need can vary by the analytics you want there are some core data types you’ll want to make sure you have handy. Our list of the basic data you will want includes:

  • Address Detail: The from and to detail for every shipment.
  • Reference Numbers: Sales orders, purchase orders, tracking #’s or other unique identifiers that can tie together your analysis with your carriers.
  • Prices and Costs: Your negotiated cost, the price you charge customers, a list price, and any other break-down you can get your hands on.
  • Shipping Services: The specific list of accessorial services such as lift gate, inside delivery, or other services that will likely end up on your invoices.
  • Container Detail: Physical container detail on boxes or pallets along with the dimensions, weight, and freight class.
  • Carrier and Services: The specific carriers and classes of service for each shipment you have processed.
  • Shipping Dates: Dates such as the shipment date or the expected delivery data based on transit time to help track performance.

Get Control of Shipping Fragmentation

Small shippers often start out by using one carrier and, if volume is low enough, use a carrier website or free PC-based shipping software, enter shipments manually, and use basic reports from the one carrier in use. With growth and customer demand to use more carriers, however, the shipping team can end up getting “fragmented” into multiple websites, software applications, and other tools. Unfortunately, when your shipment process is fragmented across multiple tools, so is your shipping data.  If that sounds like you, your next step is to look into multi-carrier shipping solutions (like Pacejet!) that can centralize all of your shipment processing and data in one solution.

Other Considerations for Better Data Quality

Beyond using a multi-carrier shipping solution to centralize your shipping process and data, give some thought to the following considerations to improve the quality and depth of data you build up for freight analytics:

  • ERP Integration: Electronic integration of data flowing between your ERP system and your carriers is key to improving the quality and depth of your shipping data without the time and errors of manual information re-entry.
  • Carrier Connectivity: Carrier connectivity should be online, real-time, and not use tariff files or other locally-maintained resources if you want to build up a repository of accurate and reliable shipping data.
  • Packing: Carrier pricing is increasingly reliant on dimensions, weight, and the types of products you are shipping. Better packing management can help you efficiently record shipment details that will improve accuracy of your shipment pricing and analytical data.
  • Quoting and Services: As your analytics uncover problems or opportunities to save, you will need tools like freight quoting and shipping services management to help users outside your shipping team.
  • Export to Excel: Some level of standard reports is very helpful but at some point you will want the ability to simply export a full range of shipping data to Excel to share with carriers, managers, and others.

Demo Video of Pacejet Freight Data Report

If you are an existing user, you know that multi-carrier shipping, ERP integration, cloud/SaaS, and carrier connectivity are central to Pacejet “DNA” and provide a good foundation for multi-carrier shipping analytics. For existing or new users, the demo video below brings together some of the concepts outlined in this post using a simple freight data report as an illustration.

Learn More

Want more information?  Contact us today at 877-722-3538 or send us an email.

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Taking a Fresh Look at USPS Shipping

With e-commerce growth continuing to hum along at 15% per year and major parcel price increases taking affect this year (a la dim weight), many shippers are taking a fresh look at shipping via USPS.

If your business is new to USPS or even if you’ve been shipping via the post office for awhile, you might want to review some of the recent changes in services and pricing. Pacejet is also “upping our USPS game” as we work through the final stages of a USPS upgrade which will offer shippers enhanced services, processing speed, and more. Read on if you think USPS might of interest to your operations.

More USPS Changes in May

At the end of May, USPS made more pricing changes for many of its services for those business who sell online.  A few services became a better bargain while others increased in price, here are a few of the key highlights:

  • Increase in Parcel Select Rates – Zone 5 and Above: Parcel Select, which is exclusively available to those who print postage online, is increasing its rates by an average of $5 per package.
  • Canada is Switching to Zone-Based Pricing: Shipping rates will be based on seven U.S. pricing zones rather than having one flat rate (depending on the package weight) for the entire country.
  • Free Package Tracking: Package tracking will become free for all domestic mail classes except Standard Mail. 
  • First-Class Mail Parcel (Retail) Gets a New Name: If you physically ship packages at the post office and use First-Class Mail Parcel (Retail), this mail class may be changing its name to First-Class Package Service.
  • Priority Mail Rates Are Staying the Same: Last September, the U.S. Postal Service lowered Priority Mail rates for those who print postage online. This benefit remains the same, and they can continue to save, especially for packages weighing more than 5 pounds.

New USPS Services Through Pacejet

Pacejet is working through the final stages of a USPS upgrade which will offer expanded services, faster performance, and more. The official target release is Q3, so stay tuned to Pacejet Blogs for more details on timing and detailed features. To help get you started planning, here is an initial summary of some of the great improvements in the new USPS support for Pacejet users.
  • Improved Rating of All USPS Services At Once: Faster rating is now supported via simultaneous rating of all USPS services versus individual, class by class rating.
  • Multiple Simultaneous Accounts: Support for simultaneous use of multiple accounts for rating and shipping. This feature will leverage existing Pacejet capability of linking facilities with accounts for coordinating account use automatically.
  • Pre-printed Return Labels: New support for pre-printed USPS return shipping labels.
  • New USPS Shipping Services: New shipping services including Priority Express, Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post), Critical Mail, Priority Mail Express International, First Class Package International.
  • New USPS Mail Piece Shapes: New support for Flat Rate Legal Envelope, Flat Rate Padded Envelope, Flat Rate Gift Card Envelope, Flat Rate Window Envelope, Flat Rate Cardboard Envelop, Small Flat Rate Envelope, DVD Flat Rate Box, Large Video Flat Rate Box, Regional Rate Box A, Regional Rate Box B, Regional Rate Box C, Large Flat Rate Board Game Box, Open and Distribute Services, Soft Pack, Next Day or Second Day Post Office to Addressee Service, Sunday and Holiday Delivery Service.
  • New Sort Types: NDC, Mixed NDC, Non Presorted, SCF
  • New Shipment Services: Adult Signature, Hazmat, Live Animals, Cremated Remains, AM Delivery
  • Improved Error Handling on Shipping: If any individual letter piece shipping fails, all pieces are voided.
  • Improved Carrier Plug-In Management: Updates to support “responsive UI”, manage the carrier fully as a plug-in for easy upgrades.
  • Other Stuff: Other changes include support for fragile and perishable items, mapping of COD return items, expanded rubberstamp and reference fields, and expanded tracking.

How Pacejet Shippers Can Get Started with New USPS

All existing Pacejet USPS users with any ERP integration will have access to the new USPS integration if it’s already included in your subscription.  Users may wish to involve Pacejet services for assistance and training on some new USPS features. If you use Pacejet but don’t use USPS today, just contact our support team to talk about activating USPS as a new carrier.

Learn More

Want more information?  Contact us today at 877-722-3538 or send us an email.

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