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DLA Distribution Red River Team Increases Performance to 98% On-Time from 87% Thanks to Custom Gull Wing Delivery Trucks

Ledwell serves the material handling industry - Gull Win unloading

The Opportunity

During his 25-year career in the military, Seth Olmstead traveled all over the world—including Japan.

“Japan has a very narrow road network,” he said. “They have to maximize the space they have. One of the things I saw while I was in Japan was delivery trucks that opened on the sides to allow for quick, easy unloading.”

Fast forward to 2020, when Olmstead served as the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution Red River Commander.

He was helping his team troubleshoot moving inventory in inclement weather. DLA services the Department of Defense and State throughout the world, Olmstead said, and when a requisition comes in for material, they fulfill it.

“We were having trouble moving material due to the rain,” he said. “We had $13 billion of inventory, but most of it was stored in cardboard boxes. When it rained, the only thing we had to move the material between warehouse and shipping locations was a flatbed trailer, but you can’t move cardboard boxes on a flatbed in the rain.”

Frustrated with the rain’s impact on his team’s performance metrics, Olmstead knew they needed a better solution—like what he’d seen in Japan.

Ledwell Gull Wing

The Solution: Ledwell Gull Wing

“I told my team to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get one of those trucks,” he said.

His team researched trucks in Japan and began reaching out to vendors, but those companies would not export them to the United States.

Then, Olmstead’s equipment specialist came to him with good news: not only had he found that type of truck here in the U.S., but it was also made locally at Ledwell.

A meeting was immediately set for him and his team—including a driver and safety personnel—to visit Ledwell and see a Gull Wing, Ledwell’s version of the trucks Olmstead had seen in action in Japan.

Originally developed as a custom product for Wholesale Electric, Ledwell’s patented Gull Wing helped the electric wholesaler revolutionize its distribution model. Its watertight side doors keep valuable cargo dry and make it easier for delivery drivers to unload specific pieces of equipment quickly.

“Steve [Ledwell] and his team were very accommodating,” Olmstead said. “They answered every question we had no matter how crazy or off-the-wall it was. We figured out in about an hour that these vehicles would make a difference. DLA Red River purchased three of the vehicles.”

Adapting the Gull Wings to fit DLA’s unique needs is a process Ledwell is familiar with. Engineer Gary Gathright said several changes and safety features were incorporated into DLA’s Gull Wings, including a safety feature that prevents the truck from moving if one of the wings is open.

“We did the controls differently. We’ve since added those upgrades to all of the new Gull Wing units, whether it be for them or another client,” Gathright said. “We changed how things are operated in the cab, incorporated a greaseable hinge that makes the service life better for the whole unit. A lot of our improvements are customer-driven. We end up incorporating those not just into a unit for that particular customer, but into the unit as a whole, so we ultimately make our entire product line better.”

The Results

With its new Gull Wing units, Olmstead’s team was able to deliver efficiently no matter the weather.

Their performance metrics lifted from 87% on-time to 98% on time in a matter of weeks.

It’s hard to argue with that kind of success. Seeing DLA’s numbers inspired Anniston Army Depot to make their order, which Ledwell is customizing to accommodate Anniston’s lower awnings.

“It was almost seamless,” Olmstead said. “Gary was able to do the calculations for those changes on the fly, and Anniston immediately found confidence in the truck because the engineer gave them the nod that this equipment would work for their needs.”

Founded by a veteran, Ledwell has always had a soft spot for projects that help our military succeed.

“Just being a local source to provide a solution for what is ultimately a local portion of a worldwide provider of support services for our warfighters could, in the future, open up a lot of doors for us to continue our reach as a worldwide company,” Gathright said.

Truck Body Manufacturer Ledwell patented Gull Wing
Ledwell serves the material handling industry - Gull Win unloading

Do you have a unique, custom truck or trailer need? We'll help you find a solution! Submit the form or call us at 888-533-9355 to get started.

Custom Truck Design Helps Wholesale Electric Speed Up Daily Deliveries

Ledwell Gull Wing truck ready for delivery

The Company

Wholesale Electric is a Texarkana-based family-owned electric wholesaler that has grown to 59 branches and counting since it was opened in 1947.

The Challenge

Box trucks and stake bed trucks with tarps were inconvenient and time consuming to load and unload, and they didn’t adequately protect products from rain and moisture.

The Solution

The patented Ledwell Gull Wing Truck, a truck custom designed for electric wholesalers with aluminum sides that lift with the push of a button. The Gull Wing can be loaded from the sides via forklift and protects products from rain and moisture.

The Outcome

Wholesale Electric now has nine Gull Wings in their fleet that make multiple deliveries per day. On average, the Gull Wing truck saves 30 minutes to one hour of loading and unloading time per work day.

“We sell electrical distribution—so, as I like to describe it, anything from the light to the switch and everything in between, we sell. One thing that sets us apart from the competition is that we run trucks to every branch every single day.”

Chris McCullochVice President, Wholesale Electric

The Company

Wholesale Electric, a family-owned electric wholesaler that has grown to 59 branches and counting since it was opened in 1947.

When Amos McCulloch Sr. opened Wholesale Electric Supply in 1947, he intended to run just the one store in Texarkana, Texas.

“My grandfather and grandmother started Wholesale Electric Supply,” said Chris McCulloch, Vice President. “My grandfather was the warehouse manager, counter sales, inside sales and delivery. My grandmother was the accountant. They started the company together, and when they started having children, she stayed home, and he kept the business going.”

More than seven decades later, Wholesale Electric has grown to 59 branches and counting in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Missouri. Second and third-generation McCullochs provide the company’s leadership. They serve customers in the residential, commercial, industrial, and utility fields. 

 “We sell electrical distribution—so, as I like to describe it, anything from the light to the switch and everything in between, we sell,” Chris said. “One thing that sets us apart from the competition is that we run trucks to every branch every single day.”

At 4 a.m., Chris said, trucks leave Little Rock and Texarkana to deliver inventory to each one of the company’s 59 branches.

“The way we look at our inventory is that it isn’t just one branch’s inventory,” Chris said. “It’s Wholesale’s inventory. So unless it has already been sold, everybody in the company is entitled to that inventory. Some companies sell materials to their branches—we do not do that.”

If one of their branches needs something, they all work together to ensure that branch gets it.

“If Little Rock has something and Dallas needs it, they might meet in Texarkana,” Chris said. “That’s just our mindset. “When a customer calls on a Saturday night, our people answer the phone and make sure they are taken care of–even if that means making an out of town delivery on a Sunday morning.” 

“For us, obviously, electrical and water don't mix very well. Or actually, they mix too well. That's the problem. And we can't use box or van-style trucks because of conduit. It's tough to load 10 feet of conduit from a forklift to the back of a box truck.”

Chris McCullochVice President, Wholesale Electric
Wholesale Electric Gull Wing

The Challenge

Box trucks and stake bed trucks with tarps were inconvenient and time consuming to load and unload, and they didn’t adequately protect products from rain and moisture.

Over the decades, the Wholesale Electric team has tried different methods of shipping products to each branch. 

For 25 years, their solution for keeping their products dry was to use stake bed trucks and tarps. Each time they had to load or unload, they would remove the rails from one side of the truck, secure a heavy tarp, and then put the rails back. Chris said the rails were heavy and prone to breaking, and the tarps were expensive and didn’t always provide adequate protection from moisture.

“It’s very easy on a two or three-hour drive for a tarp to get loose and start flapping,” he said. “And in a heavy downpour, a tarp is not going to cover everything.”

The Solution

The patent pending Ledwell Gull Wing, a truck custom designed for electric wholesalers with aluminum sides that lift with the push of a button. The Gull Wing can be loaded from the sides via forklift and protects products from rain and moisture.

Buddy McCulloch—the company’s president and Chris’s father—started looking for a better way to transport products to Wholesale Electric’s branches. He found it on a cocktail napkin. 

Buddy had known Steve Ledwell his entire life. Wholesale Electric and Ledwell & Son had grown alongside each other since both companies were founded by Buddy’s and Steve’s fathers after World War II. One evening, they sat at the bar of a local restaurant, Twisted Fork, and discussed Wholesale Electric’s transportation challenges. 

“They drew it up on a cocktail napkin,” Chris said. “That’s the story.”

Wholesale Electric’s team’s requirements included 24 feet of internal loadable space, the capacity to load six 4-foot pallets on each side, opening on the sides, and protection from moisture.

The result? A truck bed with hinged aluminum sides that lift and lower with the push of a button thanks to a central hydraulic system.

“Working with our customer, we produced several early trucks that were essentially R&D,” said John Crisp, Ledwell Regional Manager. “They’re all different—we tested the cylinders, lifted the doors at different angles, used different hinges, a different waterproofing system. We built this with a lighter structure, but still tough. In the delivery business, the trucks are stressed to their limit every day.”

Chris said the Gull Wing’s lifting aluminum sides were a game-changer for Wholesale Electric. 

“When you have that 4 a.m. truck and you’re having to unload, re-load, then tarp everything down and put the rails back on—well, now we just open the Gull Wing and load it up from the side,” he said. “Unloading is quick and easy. You open it up, and the forklift pulls the material off. We can’t load conduit from a forklift to the back of a box truck, and the rail trucks were so cumbersome to load and unload and had the added expense of replacing the tarps. The Gull Wing is the best of both worlds.”

“Ultimately, I know that with one single text or phone call to Ledwell, I can get whatever I need done, done. That matters more to me than anything else.”

Chris McCullochVice President, Wholesale Electric
Wholesale Electric Gull Wing Truck

The Outcome

Wholesale Electric now has nine Gull Wings in their fleet that make multiple deliveries per day. On average, the Gull Wing saves 30 minutes to one hour of loading and unloading time per work day.

“If you think about it, that’s a lot of time over a year for nine trucks,” he said. “Thirty minutes to an hour per truck per day is a huge advantage for us. We’re not having to stay until 6-7 p.m. loading these trucks. Time is the most valuable thing out there. Whatever can save time and get things quicker is always going to be what we choose.” 

He said speeding up the delivery process makes it easier for Wholesale Electric to fulfill their customers’ needs.

“We want to be known for providing the best service,” he said. “Electrical suppliers all sell the same stuff. What matters most is, do we have it? And can we get it to you quickly with a smile on our face?”

The Gull Wing doesn’t require a CDL to drive, which Chris said makes it easier to hire drivers. And unlike tarps, the aluminum sides can be wrapped with vinyl, turning them into moving billboards.

“They’re excellent advertisement,” said Blaire Barlow, Wholesale’s Marketing Director. “One of our locations is on a road that gets about 180,000 cars per day. So when we aren’t using it, we park it right in front of our building. It’s an outstanding billboard.”

Wholesale Electric has recently expanded into the Dallas/Fort Worth market, and the company has seen significant growth over the last decade, Chris said.

He said Ledwell has been a valuable resource for Wholesale Electric since the beginning. 

 “My granddad was a longtime resident, and Mr. Ledwell was a longtime Texarkana resident,” Chris said. “My father and Steve grew up here, and I went to high school with the Ledwell kids. This is three generations of family business working alongside each other.”

But the companies’ shared history isn’t the only reason Wholesale Electric continues to buy Ledwell trucks.

“Ultimately, I know that with one single text or phone call to Ledwell, I can get whatever I need done, done,” Chris said. “That matters more to me than anything else.”

Do you have a unique, custom truck or trailer need? We'll help you find a solution! Submit the form or call us at 888-533-9355 to get started.

Change in Season: Time For Preventative Maintenance

Ledwell 6 Yard Dump Truck

Season change means different behaviors for your trusted equipment. But you can make sure that this doesn’t affect your work on the job. There are a variety of actions you can take that your equipment needs to stay efficient and running. One of them is preventative maintenance. Not all equipment is as easy as your typical loading ramp – having to grease the landing gear only once a year. But maintenance is imperative for longevity.

We believe wholeheartedly that maintenance schedules will allow your equipment a long, happy life, no matter the piece.

We’ve devised several Preventative Maintenance sheets for your benefit. These outline how you can prepare your equipment for various conditions and what you must do to get the most out of your money. Preventative Maintenance checklists are available for the following equipment:

You can also tune into our social media on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. We know it’s tough to remember when your equipment needs routine maintenance when you have a million other things happening on the job. That’s why we do our best to provide you easy access, like adding preventative maintenance questions and answers to those above-mentioned social media outlets.

If these aren’t enough for you, and you’re looking for something a little more specific, you can always check out our FAQ page on our website or give us a call. One way or another, Ledwell is determined to gain your satisfaction through equipment performance.

Choosing a Grapple: Which Rotobec Attachment is Best for You?

Ledwell Demolition Dump with Rotobec Grapple Attachment

If you’re in the market for a grapple truck or attachment, you can’t beat industry-leading Rotobec grapples. Rotobec launched its revolutionary rotating hydraulic system in the forestry industry. Later, the company expanded its product offerings to include recycling, waste handling, railroad maintenance, and construction and bulk material handling.

Which grapple will work best for you? Rotobec has a wide selection of grapples designed for specific industries and job applications.

Ledwell Demolition Dump with Rotobec Grapple Attachment

Forestry & Logging

Excavators, material handlers, and log loaders need tough grapples that can adapt to various situations. If you’re looking for something versatile, Rotobec’s Log Grapples, Combination Grapples, and Rotobec Power Attachments fit the bill. Rotobec’s Pulpwood Grapples and Butt’n Top Grapples load and unload trucks efficiently.

Industrial Jobs

Industrial grapples handle a variety of materials in any environment imaginable. Rotobec’s Clamshell Buckets are available in multiple sizes and configurations. The Demolition Power Attachment Grapple is built with thicker, stronger steel. Rotobec’s Pipe & Pole Handing Series Grapples safely handle utility poles and gas lines.

Waste Handling

Rotobec offers grapple attachments for each step of the waste handling and waste removal process, with specialized units for trash, compaction, sorting/demolition, and waste collection. Plus, they offer multi-purpose, and waste collection grapples that make roadside pickup and storm cleanup quicker and more efficient.

Scrap Metal

If it isn’t tough, you don’t want to use it for scrap metal. Rotobec is an industry leader in durable, tough, innovative products for scrap metal handling. Their Orange Peel Grapple has a fully guarded, hose-less cylinder design that reduces the risk of hydraulics damage. The Demolition RPA’s 360-degree rotation allows for more flexibility in motion than traditional dangle style rotation grapples.

Railway Operations

Need to move railroad ties? Look no further than Rotobec’s rail grapples. The Tie Bundle Grapple can handle 5-9 tie-wide bundles, and the Loose Tie Grapple helps collect and move ties without bringing shale along.

Storm Chasers

Hurricanes, tornadoes, severe storms, and floods can cause catastrophic damage and leave behind an immense amount of debris. Storm chasers need dump trucks outfitted with a versatile, multi-purpose loader and grapple combination that can handle a variety of materials, such as the Rotobec Elite 910 + Waste Collection Grapple.

Authorized Rotobec Dealer

Looking for a do-everything package? Pair a Rotobec loader and grapple with a Ledwell Dump Truck for a powerful machine that’ll get the job done.

As an authorized Rotobec dealer with the quickest turnaround times in the industry, we can build a truck to your specs and ship it out when you need it, where you need it. Learn more.

Contact us at 888-533-9355 or sales@ledwell.com to discuss which Rotobec attachment will best meet your needs.

Winning at Innovation: Ledwell Solar Lift Loading Ramp

Solar Loading Ramp by ledwell
Solar Loading Ramp by ledwell

If you are looking for the next innovative piece of equipment – look to Ledwell! Our Solar Lift Loading Ramp is the 2020 Innovative Product Award, Miscellaneous Category winner – presented by RER Magazine.

During a typical workday, the goal is usually to get the most done, in the shortest amount of time and in the most organized way possible. Efficiency is key. The revolutionary Ledwell Solar Loading Ramp is built for just that. If you’ve ever wished you could cut out the lengthy process of lifting your ramp via hand-crank then this is the perfect addition to your arsenal. We’ve managed to give your ramp the capability to harness the power of the sun, so you don’t have to work so hard. Simply connect our Solar Panel to your ramp’s battery system, charge it, and then flip a switch and allow your Solar Lift to do the rest. It’s the easiest way to find the perfect angle for the job at hand.

Maybe you already have a perfectly good Ledwell Loading Ramp, All-Weather or Standard, and wished you had the opportunity to upfit your ramp. Well, you do! We can upfit any current Ledwell Loading Ramp with a Solar Lift Kit and voila, you have your very own Solar Lift Ramp!

The Ledwell staff had heard from many customers that drivers frequently had difficulty lining up the height of the trailer when they backed up their vehicle to a loading dock. “They need to move it up or down to match the trailer height because you don’t want to jump some mower off the ramp,” says Steve Ledwell. “Some drivers either don’t wish to run them up and down because it’s a little work, or some literally can’t physically do it anymore for whatever reason. So, we came up with this plan to put a solar panel and put a switch on it. You pull a switch and it goes up or you pull a switch and it goes down. And now we have a ramp that can go up and down easily, so drivers more easily get it correct. It’s safer and easier for the drivers, it’s safer on the load and this way drivers don’t mind spending a few extra seconds to match up the height because it’s not hard.”

Ledwell emphasizes the safety benefits of the solar ramp. “The drivers are taking a chance not matching up right,” he says. “The driver will take a machine and try to drive it on a ramp that’s either six inches too low for the trailer or six inches too high because they didn’t want to crank it anymore. So, this is a much safer and easier solution.”

We are beyond proud of the team that made this new ramp operation a success. To read the entire article go to rermag.com.

Learn more about upgrading your Ledwell ramp with a solar lift kit.

Partnership leads to new tracked hydroexcavator

hydro excavation system from Ledwell

In 2019, we had the opportunity to manufacture one of our vacuum tanks combined with a crawler carrier that could change an industry.

This project was similar to others- taking an idea and turning it into reality.

To provide a solution.

In Ledwell fashion, we ran towards the opportunity.

The Opportunity

When a hydro-excavation contractor needs to perform work in hard-to-reach or environmentally sensitive areas such as swamps or marshes, it is often difficult to use large trucks.

Mats can sometimes be placed down for the trucks to drive over to protect the environment from any damage the heavy machines may cause.

Those mats are heavy, bulky, and expensive, though, and they take additional time to utilize.

hydro excavation system from Ledwell

The Solution

However, through a collaborative effort with Ledwell & Son, PRINOTH and Pipeline & Utility Rental Equipment (PURE), the pipeline and utility industries have a new tool to make digging easier.

The TrakVac is a compact hydro excavator built by Ledwell and mounted on a PRINOTH crawler carrier buggy. It combines the agility of a crawler carrier to access hard-to-reach areas with low-impact vacuum technology where traditional digging is more difficult, especially close to underground utilities and pipelines.

The idea was to get a more compact hydro-excavation unit into some of the harder-to-reach or environmentally sensitive areas of pipeline construction.

“The total package of hydroexcavation with the ability to ‘Go Anywhere’ (which is PRINOTH’s slogan) makes the TrakVac a true initiative and an answer to the growing demands of the pipeline industry,” says Gary Gathright, Ledwell engineer.

An industry first, the TrakVac provides a solution for unique job sites. After countless hours of engineering, manufacturing, and perfecting, we are proud to share this innovation with the world.

Dig Different’s March issue features this unique machine as a Product Spotlight. Read more about it in Dig Different’s Product Spotlight.

Robotic Welder Plays Key Role in Production

Training on Robot Welder

In the industrial world, a big word is efficiency – especially when it comes to manufacturing. One needs to be able to get parts, pieces, and products out fast and accurately. People are and will always be the key, but sometimes they need a little help to keep up with customer demands. That’s why Ledwell would like to introduce you to a new addition to our team – our Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) Robotic Welder.

Our Robotic Welder is currently being used to produce over 30 types of parts – for example, our hydraulic cylinders.

We’ve decreased the time it takes to weld together a cylinder in half due to this innovation. The robot program knowledge is growing and soon will handle the output of our most highly produced parts.

This machine can move roughly three to four times faster than the average person with the accuracy and precision Ledwell requires. Where it might take a person 20 minutes to weld a single part, it would take the robot five.

The operator has two options in controlling this machine. They can either control it Offline, meaning they present a 3D model and provide commands, or they can teach the machine and guide its every movement. Either way, the Robotic Welder is non-stop.

The continuous movement is really what gives the machine an extra edge and makes it cool to watch!

Follow us on social media and you might see it in action.

 

CNC Robotic Welder
Program training on Robot Welder

First Response Team of America Responds to Natural Disasters

Ledwell Trailer loaded with First Response Team of America fleet equipment

It’s always devastating to see, hear, and feel the adverse effects of detrimental weather across the world. When this does happen, the community needs support from each other and others willing to help in a time of need.

When all hope seems lost, the First Response Team of America is there to begin rebuilding.

They work hard to be in place and prepared for where disaster might strike so that they’re ready to act at a moment’s notice when it does.

The first step of the process is to begin tracking storms. They monitor the movements of major storm systems and calculate where they have a higher probability to strike. The team positions themselves in that general area and preps for the impending weather. During this process, they’re in constant contact with meteorologists so they can provide the proper response while involving local officials. After the storm, they immediately move in, providing optimal medical and debris clearing support to help get communities and people back on their feet as soon as possible.

Ledwell Trailer loaded with First Response Team of America fleet equipment

It takes a lot to rebuild a community and a special person to dedicate his life to doing so. The First Response Team of America is made up of people like their founder, Tad Agoglia, who are doing wonderful things for communities just like yours. To learn more about their operation, you can follow them on Facebook or visit their website at firstresponseteam.org.

Top 5 Tips on Telematics

The future is digital, and that includes how we keep track of equipment. Whether in the rental industry or construction, you want to know where your equipment is and how it’s performing. Rental Equipment Register put together a few industry experts’ tips on utilizing the most out of telematics and software.

What is telematics?

 

Telematics is a technology that monitors and gathers the logistics of a vehicle or an entire fleet. Telematics utilizes computer systems to collect data from various operation points, including location, driver behavior, fuel, and overall health.

 

Why should I consider using telematics?

 

There is always room for improvement, and we think these tips on telematics are just the way to help you do your job better. 

1: Make the right IT investment decision:

says Loren Carlson, operations manager, Star Rentals. “Once made, it is very costly to rectify,” Carlson says. “Make sure you have a clear understanding of the pain points of the current system, or lack of system. Establish a clear understanding of what you intend to improve, and how you will measure success. The best way to do this is to solicit input from every level and area of the company.” Once completed, this serves as the basis for evaluating IT options and helps to keep the evaluation discussion focused.

2: Create an implementation roadmap:

Once the IT decision is made, invest time in configuring it before it’s rolled out, to make the user interface as intuitive as possible, says Carlson. “It may be capable of great things, but if users struggle to adapt to it, your returns will be delayed while you waste time and energy pushing users to use it. The same applies with back-end system integration. Creating an implementation Roadmap ahead of time will ensure you realize the benefits as quickly as possible.”

3: Focus on impact, not just ROI:

As you evaluate IT options, think about who and what will benefit from technology first, says Martin Roath of ZTR Control Systems. “Some benefits will be easy to quantify, while others may be more financially intangible,” Roath says. “For example, technology benefits could affect culture or customer experience in undeniable ways that are difficult to measure in dollars.”

4: Consider application flexibility:

As time passes, requirements for IT can change so be sure to look for solutions that don’t limit your future, says Roath. “As you think about your people, processes, and other business systems, be sure to consider integration capabilities that connect your business systems together,” he says.

5: Develop a training support structure:

Make the structure accessible to everyone in the company. “This can be scaled to any size business, but the key is to have expert level assistance readily available,” Carlson says.

These five tips are just the beginning. Over two dozen experienced industry professionals helped put together 50 telematics tips. We hope these help your company become more effective. Learn how even the slightest change with telematics and software can make a world of difference.

Read about all 50 tips from Rental Equipment Register here.

Maintenance Schedule Helps Achieve Peak Performance

Ledwell Maintenance Schedule for heavy duty loading ramp

When your equipment gets a little run down, and a maintenance schedule is not in place, equipment isn’t at its peak performance.

How do you feel without a bit of rejuvenation now and then?

Tired?

Sluggish?

Well, your equipment works a lot as you do. What happens to our joints as we age?

Do we move most efficiently our entire lives? No, but the wonderful thing about machinery is that it can.

A proper maintenance schedule, including greasing, can keep your equipment’s movements swift and its folds or other points of operation smooth.

We have programs for each piece of our equipment readily accessible to you! Just visit the Resources section of our website to find the maintenance schedule for your equipment. You’ll find everything you need to know about taking care of your machinery and making sure it’s in tip-top shape.

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