Innovative Predictive & Preventative Maintenance - The DL S3E07
In this episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops’ Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Vince Barbarie, Chief Technology Officer at Industrial Digital Solutions (IDS) & Senior Director of Engineering at Industrial Parts Depot, LLC (IPD), for a special podcast during HDAW (Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week). Vince talks about adapting from mechanical to electronic, predictive diagnostics, data reporting, preventative maintenance, and supply chain.
As always thank you for watching and listening!
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Transcript for Innovative Predictive & Preventative Maintenance - The DL S3 E7:
Tyler Robertson (00:06):
Welcome to The DL. I am your host, Tyler Robertson, the CEO and founder of Diesel laptops. And if you're watching on the video portion today, you'll notice we're not in our studio. We're actually in Dallas, Texas, at HDAW so we're doing a couple episodes from here. And I want to say, it felt really weird. I was inviting some people, calling people, texting people saying, "Hey, would you like to come to my hotel room? I got a camera crew." And inviting some random dudes to your hotel room could get weird, but this is not going to get weird. So, I'm going to say Vince with IPD welcome to The DL from HDAW.
Vince Barbarie (00:44):
Hey, thank you, Tyler. The noises in the background are probably cows, if you hear anything, or some Longhorn running around.
Tyler Robertson (00:50):
Yeah. So, let's just do this first who is IPD because I'm going to be honest. I was on the floor yesterday, I'm talking to different people. I, I would say about a third of the time, the people I dude knew who IPD was, two-thirds of the time they didn't. But I think it's kind of commonly understood. There were vendors I was walking around with, "Who are those guys? And why do they get a 40-foot booth?" But those companies are here. So who is IPD what do you guys do?
Vince Barbarie (01:15):
So IPD is a company that's been around since 1955, newcomers on the scene. And we've been making engine parts for diesel engines, for big engines, that whole time. Pistons, liners, rings, head gaskets. We focus on the hard parts, it's in our DNA, it's what we do. We dabble in some of the smaller engines like a six liter engine, but for the most part, it's the 15 liter and up.
Vince Barbarie (01:46):
Highway's a big part of the business too. Truck's the small stuff we do, most of the stuff we do is bigger. It's pistons that so big that you've got to use a forklift to move them.
Tyler Robertson (01:58):
How does a company even get started to say, "Hey, I'm going to go build big after market engine parts?" Is there a founding story?
Vince Barbarie (02:07):
It's before my time, obviously, but it's one of those companies that started in a woodshed. Bob Rasmussen and Walter Storm many years ago, founded the company, making small parts for a customer who needed something. And you start with one part and then you just start to make additional parts. And when you start to put together the expertise around, "Okay, how do I make something like a piston or a liner?" And then you start to put, "Okay, how do I ship it?" All those things, you learn those things as you do them, you know this from starting a company.
Tyler Robertson (02:47):
But what's amazing is how many parts companies I talked to that have a very similar story. Someone years ago was like, "I need a widget for my truck and nobody makes it." Or, "The manufacturer stopped making it, so I'm going to make it." And then they sell it to a buddy and a friend and here they are years later. And IPD is not just a North American company, that's the interesting thing about you guys. It's really a worldwide thing. Where else do you guys put these engines?
Vince Barbarie (03:15):
North America, US and Canada is only a little more than 50% of our market. The rest they go all over the world, we've got locations in Australia, in Europe. We have a like sales guys located in places like Poland and Russia and the middle east and it just goes on. Every continent other than Antarctica, we've got boots on the ground.
Tyler Robertson (03:43):
Yeah. That's just crazy. People look at diesel engines and they're really the same, no matter what continent they're on at the end of the day.
Vince Barbarie (03:49):
Yeah. They're the same. And the people who make them, the OE's, caterpillar, Cummins, whoever, Detroit, they leverage that global economy. They design an engine in one place and then they sell them everywhere. So, the aftermarket, the people making replacement parts, there is an important distinction between making an aftermarket, a part that'll fit versus making a replacement part. Because when you're rebuilding an engine that's been rebuilt three, four, or five, seven times. The part that goes into that engine might not be the same part that came down the assembly line when that engine was new.
Tyler Robertson (04:32):
Yeah. I've got to imagine when things are new and things are tight and everything's machined to fit inside each other, but things wear down and after 100 000, 1000 000 miles, 2 000 000 miles, 1000 hour... Whatever metric that's being used.
Vince Barbarie (04:44):
Yeah. And when you start doing things like taking 10 1000ths off a head, suddenly gear lash starts to become an issue. Things that wasn't an issue when you put the engine together new, are now an issue.
Tyler Robertson (04:59):
How difficult is it been? So I come from the repair side. So, 2004, we added the EGR system and then we added DPS systems, then we added SCR systems and it just goes on and on. Has that added a lot of complexity to aftermarket companies, such as yourself, having to keep up with new engine redesigns and these things that are happening inside engines.
Vince Barbarie (05:18):
Yeah. For sure. Particularly On-Highway, in the Off-Highway world there's still a lot of engines that run like they did in 1992, people keep rebuilding them. You'd be surprised that there's still those old two stroke Detroits that are around and people just keep running those things. But from after treatment, it's more than just the way the engine runs, it's the electronics around the engine. And you go from a little pump line nozzle diesel system with a mechanical governor and suddenly, now you have an ECU, you've got electronic control on it. It's a different ballgame.
Tyler Robertson (05:59):
And I didn't understand it, because I worked at dealerships forever. So, I always saw the new stuff, dealerships typically don't get the old stuff. And then I had a chance to go up to the uconn to see, on the scene of gold rush and I can tell you, they had nothing new up there. And they were rebuilding old Detroits and Cats. If they could find a cat engine in a truck, literally, that was the thing everybody wanted up there. Because, they could just rebuild the things forever, so I totally get it. Let's talk about the future, we talked about the past a bit. The interesting thing is, I believe you guys launched a new division in your company, I would love to... You get a new title?
Vince Barbarie (06:36):
Okay. So, at IPD we're always striving to be innovative and do new things. Come out with steel liners for the ISX, we came out with that a few years ago where, I don't know if you know the ISX engine, where if you end up throwing... A piston seizes, or the things start to wear out, you can very easily throw a rod through the block. So we came up with a steel liner because we said, "Hey, we need a liner that will contain a piston covering part." Which, it did by the way. And normally liners are cast iron, but we made it out of steel to try to innovate. We also have cryo-treated head bolts. So, Cat, C-series engines are notorious for having head gasket issues. And the problem is that the head bolts are just not strong enough. So you take the same head bolt and you run it through a cryogenic treatment process and now that head bolt is strong enough and it...
Tyler Robertson (07:31):
It sounds like fancy futuristic stuff almost.
Vince Barbarie (07:34):
Yeah. It is...
Tyler Robertson (07:35):
It's cool to hear, "Hey, OEM made something." And you guys are like, "Man, there's a high rate of failure. We're going to figure out a way to make this thing even better. The second, third, fourth time around," which is great.
Vince Barbarie (07:46):
And look, it sounds cheesy because you always hear it starts with the customers. There's a customer involved, you don't just sit there and think, "What am I going to do today?" No, there's always a customer who says, "Hey, I have a problem." And sometimes the customer will say, "Hey, here's how you solve it." And other times you have to figure it out, you have to spend time with your engineers and the smart guys. As the world changes and as engines went from being mechanical to being electronic, and then as the internet became alive, a few years ago.
Vince Barbarie (08:18):
The ability to talk to an engine controller went from nothing, to now having the ability to, as you well know, hook a laptop up to a machine. So from a very general perspective, IPD launched a new business. That's called IDS, Industrial Digital Solutions. And it's here to attack some of the industrial internet of things. So we're looking at, "Okay, how do you take a device and connect it to telematics, connect it to the internet, connect it to other devices. How do you connect it to your operator?" And how do you do that in a meaningful way, simply.
Tyler Robertson (09:11):
Yeah. And I think a lot of people don't really understand what you were saying about the reason these things are electronic is we needed to control things and things are getting more fine tuned and emissions, things had to go that way. And I know people complain about it a lot. "Oh, that computer, that's the problem on the truck. All these sensors now, why don't they make them like the good old days?" And those days are long gone and never coming back and it's created a lot of complexity.
Tyler Robertson (09:36):
That's why my company exists is because things got really complex, really quick to fix and people need diagnostic tools to do that. So, I'm starting to see in your industry, in the aftermarket world, which we're both in the aftermarket world, just in different areas here. You need the ability to know when your products, especially on that vehicle... What's it doing? What's going on? How do we stay competitive and make sure we keep making better products and all those things. So, why don't you go ahead and talk about... We have a product that we're helping you guys with, so let's talk about that a bit.
Vince Barbarie (10:09):
From that IDS, from the concept of saying, "Hey, we're going to do something that's so radically different from our core, we're going to start new business." And that was the point of starting the business was that it's so different from what we normally do. Now, of course, when you do something that's so different, you can either sit there and hire a hundred people and all try to figure out how to do it. Or you can partner with someone who's intelligent and has already done it, which is what we did in this case. We said, "Hey, help us out with this." And so the product is called Truck Rx, you guys are providing the back end and the technology, very similar to a diesel decoder where you can hook up into the J 1939, the diagnostic port on an i-Highway truck.
Vince Barbarie (10:52):
And then talk to the machine. You pull your phone out in the same way that you can buy a refrigerator and you can, ask that refrigerator what temperature it is from your phone. And there's stuff we can do where you know what kind of food's in your refrigerator, people have that. The future's here. We don't have flying cars yet, which I'm really disappointed on, but we do have refrigerators that can tell us if we need milk. Well, you're On-Highway truck now is trying to tell you things, but if you don't know how to listen to it, a light's going to ping and you're not going to know what that means. In a very simple sense the Truck Rx product is the here to allow an operator to talk to a machine in way he couldn't a couple of years ago.
Tyler Robertson (11:42):
Ago, so you're this 65 year old company making hard machine parts. And all of a sudden someone in your company, I don't know if it's you or some people in your company who are like, "Hey, we need some technology here." Was that a big transition and a conversation? I've got to imagine that's difficult. You do one thing forever, now it's, "We need to do this other thing." How was that internally, inside the company?
Vince Barbarie (12:05):
It always starts with some idiot and I was one of those idiots and there was a few of us who said, "Hey, we want to do something that's bit different from what we're used to doing." And then, going to the board, the directors, the owners of the companies and saying, "Hey, we have this idea and this is what it's going to cost." And then they kind of look at you like, "You sure about that?"
Tyler Robertson (12:25):
We need a bunch of money.
Vince Barbarie (12:30):
And you say, "No, really this is going to be fun. It's going to be exciting and it's the future." Even something like engine parts, there's going to be, there's a long tail on the internal combustion engine, it's demise pundits are always saying, oh yeah, it's going away. And all the passenger cars are being outlawed. But on the highway truck side, on the commercial side, machines that do work, dozers, they're going to be around and in a very similar state to they are today for as long as I'm alive. But at the same time, the way that people interact with them via telematics, every new machine and every new On-Highway truck that's being sold today has telematics that connect it to the OE dealer.
Vince Barbarie (13:14):
The OE dealer gets all this information about how that truck is running, he can use that information to go to his customers and say, "Hey I can help you make your trucks run better." And so that's that's what we're trying to do. And we're trying to provide the information also, so if the dealer doesn't get it now, the independent aftermarket can get that information. And that's something that is going to be very powerful in the coming years.
Tyler Robertson (13:40):
Yeah. I didn't realize it was in the data business until about two years ago and I'm like, "Wait a second, I'm on the business of efficiency and diagnostics. I'm in the business of collecting data." And you're right because people and companies like you need to know when your product's installed in a vehicle, how's that vehicle operating. And you talked a little bit about predictive. Everything that happens in the world today is reactive and it sucks because, oh, something's broke, my load can't get hauled. When can the shop fix it? I've got to find somebody, can they find parts? All these uncertainties happen? And if you can actually get to predictive, now you can plan for things and it changes how people can run their business for the better.
Vince Barbarie (14:22):
Yeah. There's an expectation that an engine will run for a certain number of hours, a certain number of miles when a guy rebuilds an engine. And being able to prevent these catastrophic failures, we've all seen the engine with the rod coming through the block and that's bad. And as a company that makes hard parts it happens, an engine built with your part sometimes go goes, "Boom!". And you look at all it, "Let's figure out what happened." And you're looking at the engine trying to figure out, "Why did it fail? What happened?" But the ECU has all this information in it about how it was running and knows things before they happen because it's got sensors.
Vince Barbarie (15:16):
And so your ability to take that information and predict things before they happen, predict check engine lights before they come on, understand that your fuel injectors are floating even before it gets to the point where the engine says, "Hey, I there's something wrong." It's huge and then doing, not just on one vehicle, but now you've got ten vehicles, you've got 100 vehicles, you've got 1000 vehicles. That's where you can start to pull information and comparing.
Vince Barbarie (15:44):
The simplest example I give to people about how you save fuel economy with one of these devices, is that if you have fleet of trucks and a different driver gets a different truck every day, you can then look and see, okay, which of your drivers has the worst fuel economy? Because one of them has got a heavy foot than the others, he's going to shift differently, he's going to do something weird and maybe he needs training. Or you're going to have across my fleet, all of my drivers have the same fuel economy, but that one truck gets bad fuel economy and that's costing you money every single day.
Tyler Robertson (16:18):
Yeah. I mean, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. I could say my business, it's amazing how many times you find something and we're like, "Well, what is that measurement?" You look at like, "Man, that sucks." And then you go make a little tweak and all of a sudden things are better but you have to have data and you have to have the insights into those things. So, you've got this new division of the company, we've got Truck RX that we're working on, coming out soon. I'm assuming you're going to have more than one product eventually, you guys have some big ambitions here and some big goals.
Vince Barbarie (16:47):
Yeah. So, for us, in the world of, I'll say of telematics you can have your pick of On-Highway vehicles, there's the really expensive complicated OE solutions, especially for when you get to the machine side. And then there's some of the stuff that's... I'll say telematics light. So, it tells you where your vehicle is and maybe it tells you the fuel economy. Maybe it tells you if there's a diagnostic code on it, but it doesn't really give you information on how to repair it or what that means. And it certainly doesn't connect you to a service guy, it gives you the data. And so if you're an owner-operator of a small to mid-sized fleet, today in the world of telematics, you're screwed.
Vince Barbarie (17:32):
You don't really have any good options that will tell you how to fix it, connect you with a service guy and so we're trying to build that infrastructure to say, "Look, in your small to mid-size fleet management on a diesel engine or a natural gas engine that's running down the road, you need to have information that can go to a service guy, multiple different service guys." And, "Look, we're starting with a device that's going to save you money on a tow."
Vince Barbarie (18:00):
One dealer diagnostic fee you saved on when you do something on a Truck Rx. But the few future is going to be connecting that into the cloud, having multiple different devices, being able to talk to each other and then the Off-Highway side of the world, that's our On-Highway's maybe 20%, 25% of our business today. So, most of it's on an Off-Highway machines and then even goes to Marine. Each of those set requires a different set of technology and there's regulations around different engines and the way you have to even talk to them. And I don't know if you've ever looked at what the equivalent of the FCC is in places in Africa.
Tyler Robertson (18:45):
I haven't, do they have [inaudible 00:18:46] laws and things like that?
Vince Barbarie (18:49):
Every country has their own rules about what you can communicate, how you can communicate, what kind of data, where you can store the data. You even just go to Europe and you find there's GDPR and then now Britain moving out. Brexit, now they have different rules. And so you have to know those and so each one of those markets is different, but there's a ton of opportunity because when I've gone and talked to IBD customers, who've been buying hard parts for years from us and said, "Hey, we have this idea, we want to create this business and do this." They've always said, "Fantastic. When can I have it?" That's when I would say, "It's okay, slow down, we're not there yet. We need to develop the technology and make it happen."
Tyler Robertson (19:29):
It's really good to see it come company that's been around for 65 years saying, "Hey, we need to understand this stuff and use it for our business." I think that's just a growing trend in our industry, in general. I know we compete against the OEMs with our tools and the things we provide, I know you guys do as well so I think we look at the same way. "Man, they got all the resources, they have all stuff. We need to keep innovating and keep coming up with new products and services so we can go compete." And I think your company's doing a great job as well, because let's face it you have people that sell overhaul kits, you guys sell overhaul kits. And you're creating those differentiators and those value adds, that all of a sudden your competitors are going to be like, "Oh, what the heck?"
Tyler Robertson (20:09):
"How do we compete against that?" You're building that wall and that moat around your business, which anyone listening to this that owns a business needs to figure out, "How do I build that moat? How do I build the high walls in my business? So people can't compete with me and now I can charge a higher premium price. And now I can do these other things because of all the values we provide." So, very similar business model that you're doing with this, is exactly what do at Diesel Laptops.
Vince Barbarie (20:33):
As you know, it starts with smart people, I have some really smart people on my team. In fact, I have an engineer now who has already installed a beta unit on a machine, running diagnostics, we called it Machine Rx. It's the expensive, complicated product versus the simple truck RX product right now. You have to do things that are outside your comfort zone. It's not what you're used to doing. You have to go to the board and say, "Hey I want to do something crazy."
Tyler Robertson (21:08):
"I need a bunch of money."
Vince Barbarie (21:10):
Yes, "I need to spend a bunch of money."
Tyler Robertson (21:10):
I can tell you what we're going to get for it.
Vince Barbarie (21:11):
Exactly, and then sometimes you've got to throw it against the wall and see what sticks. And then you've got to work with other people who are similarly innovative and intelligent. And if you end up spending your time, you're dealing with the same suppliers, the same allies, the same buddies the whole time, then yeah, you're not going to grow, your moat's drying up and your piece of land's getting smaller. And no one wants that in their business.
Tyler Robertson (21:40):
Yeah. Well, we talked about that. I just want to talk about one subject that's on everyone's mind right now. And that's just supply chain, parts issues, problems.
Vince Barbarie (21:50):
We don't have any of those problems.
Tyler Robertson (21:51):
You guys are perfect.
Vince Barbarie (21:52):
Tyler Robertson (21:55):
Is it getting better? I'm on Facebook groups, I'm on LinkedIn, we talk to customers every day, I can't find turbos, there was a point that people couldn't find overhaul kits for Cummins engines and I think that's still a problem for some models. Is it getting better out there? Is it worse? I know we're struggling with some things too, but how are you guys doing?
Vince Barbarie (22:17):
This last year, it's been a weird time to say we had a good year, but we had a good year. We had a lot of people coming to us and saying, "Hey, I want parts, I want more parts." And what we've really noticed is that the people who are able to plan better and say, "Okay, I'm going to need a rebuild kit in six weeks." Or, "six months." They're the ones who are making it happen and the people who come to you with their her disheveled and like, "I need parts today."
Tyler Robertson (22:47):
That's like 99.9% of the customers. That's exactly what Truck RX is trying to fix, I get it.
Vince Barbarie (22:53):
Yeah. But it's the people who are able to plan and know when the maintenance is going to be needed on an edge, when an overhaul... Because a lot of these big machines are that 20,000 hours they get rebuilt.
Tyler Robertson (23:05):
You know it's coming, you can put it on a date on the calendar.
Vince Barbarie (23:07):
Yes. And there's a season for where they way they do the work. There's that seasonal aspect of rebuilding engines because it's your gold rush town. They're not running their engines in winter, probably not even rebuilding them because it's too cold. So, there's a time when they have to rebuild it and they know when it's coming. Yeah. And so if they're able to say ahead of time, "Hey, I know that there's this supply chain issue. I know crisis that everyone's dealing with," which we are dealing with as well. "So I'm going to go and I'm going to ask for my parts a few weeks ahead of when I normally would." Those guys are doing well, because they're getting the parts.
Tyler Robertson (23:41):
So I remember when COVID happened and people started hoarding toilet paper and then groceries. Are people hoarding truck parts? Is that a thing that you're seeing?
Vince Barbarie (23:49):
Some of our, our distributors are re builders and some of them are stocking distributors. And the stocking distributors are doing better because they're even selling to... We've heard about inter distributor, one of them sells to another other guy. From a business perspective, it's always nice to have that thing where, "I utilize cash well." "No inventory, I'm just the king of..."
Tyler Robertson (24:19):
"Just in time, my whole inventory, I'm turning inventory 10 times a year."
Vince Barbarie (24:22):
Tyler Robertson (24:23):
Those guys are in trouble now.
Vince Barbarie (24:24):
They are absolutely and I came from the OE world. I worked with OE suppliers and big companies. And yeah, it was all about the guys who were like, "Well, I can save a million dollars by $1 off each one of these parts that I sell and then I can keep it off our books by having it on a supply chain that's really long." And it's complicated. Those guys are hating life right now. And it's also insourcing. It's the people who are able to do things themselves are doing well right now.
Tyler Robertson (24:58):
Have you seen all the oil shortage stuff going on now with engine oils and people not being able to find their brands?
Vince Barbarie (25:03):
No, I didn't know about that. I did notice that the price of oil is through the roof, a can of oil for your car, or for your truck, is just nuts
Tyler Robertson (25:11):
I'm on a lot of Facebook groups with drivers, truckers, mechanics and technicians. And that's the thing I'm seeing now. People are like, "Oh, there's no more of my brand oil, I had to use..." First it was, "Well, they don't have it in bulk, but they one gallon jugs." and then it was, "They don't have my brand anymore so now I'm on brand B." "I can't get my Mobil, I get whatever off brand." And now it's like, "Well, that's out too." And people are hoarding, literally people are like, "Oh yeah, I bought 50 gallons to keep in my garage at home for my next four oil changes." And I'm like, "Yep, hoarding." We're just going through the same cycle over and over again. It's almost comical.
Vince Barbarie (25:46):
Like tires, I had a hard time when I was trying to get a set of Michelin tires and they've been out for six months, of a particular style and size of tires. And they're like, "Okay guys." It's got to clear up eventually. To get here, I flew out of the LAX. And to fly out of LAX, you fly up and then you turn left. I was on the left side of the plane so I got see the port.
Tyler Robertson (26:11):
Was there a couple ships out there waiting?
Vince Barbarie (26:12):
It's just a stack of container ships as far as the eye can see. And so I took a picture for, my supply chain guy and sent to him...
Tyler Robertson (26:21):
I have the chief of the Port of LA coming on the podcast here in a of couple episodes. I'm going to hit him up like, "What's wrong with you guys?" I know it's not their fault and there's a lot of reasons, but it's been very interesting having you come on here. And I think more than anything, I'm just really humbled and honored to be working with IPD.
Tyler Robertson (26:40):
You guys have a great brand name in the marketplace, really excited you guys selected us here as your technology partner on this first product. I know we're going to deliver for you guys and I know it's step one of like step 100 where both of us want to get to. And I don't know this but it was almost two years ago to the day that I first met IPD and even a more shady hotel room than this one. We didn't even have a suite, we were just like, "Hey, come sit to the bed next to me." And we patted it and we had a conversation with some of the IPD people. Bobster Ivan even retired in the meantime since that whole thing so it's been a journey. And it's actually good to meet you in person after doing so many Zoom sessions. It's almost weird seeing you in person.
Vince Barbarie (27:20):
I think you or someone said, "Oh, you have legs?" We appreciate working with people who are intelligent and people who are motivated and know the technology and want to do something that's outside of what you do every day and make a difference and help customers out. And we can see that, I can see it in you that you want to make those customers smile and make them happy in new ways. Not just the same way the last time that they were happy.
Tyler Robertson (27:55):
Hey, there's always a better way to do something. It just often takes a lot of money and time to go figure out, "Nope. Either that was a better way or it wasn't." But we all get there eventually. So, it's on what we do at Diesel Laptops. So if people want to get ahold of you or learn more about IPD, where do they go?
Vince Barbarie (28:09):
So for IPD, you go to www.ipdparts.com, but for IDS, we have a new website, www.idsrx.com is the website. And there's a contact form where if people want more information, they can put a contact form in there and we will keep them in the loop as we develop these products.
Tyler Robertson (28:29):
New division, new website, new product, new job title, you must feel like almost starting fresh inside your own company at this point.
Vince Barbarie (28:36):
I still have my old job, the Chief Technology Officer job is just additional, it's just more fun. It's fun and I say with all honesty. It's exciting and it's fun. And it puts a smile on my face every day to jump into crazy stuff like this.
Tyler Robertson (28:52):
Well, awesome, man. Thank you for coming on. Thank you for meeting with me. I know it's early in the morning here. We were all out late last night. So, it's been great to get to know you. So as we end every episode, it's just not diagnostics it's diagnostics done right. And check out IPD check out IDS, the new product Truck Rx, I think it's going to be a great thing. So, thank you for watching thank you for listening. Like. Subscribe, comment, all those things help us immensely. And we'll catch you on the next episode.