The packaging tool is a web-based, data-enabled system that centralises all packaging information. The 3M Integrated Packaging Tool was built with Microsoft.NET and uses Microsoft SQL Server as its back-end database. It also allows users to take advantage of their existing IT infrastructure through the use of an XML-based Application Programming Interface (API).
"We're taking the next step forward in coupling our manufacturing and supply chain experience with the best available software and services," said 3M chairman W. James McNerney. "We see our work with both HighJump and Microsoft as proof points validating our strategy to develop service businesses that build on our core competencies."
3M began development of the solution in 1999 to help manage its own packaging supply chain. After seeing a number of benefits, such as improved productivity and cost savings, 3M decided to offer the integrated packaging solution commercially.
The company currently offers its packaging information management software and services to companies across several vertical industries, including consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, life sciences, automotive, and chemicals. Global manufacturers including Heinz now use 3M's software and services to manage their packaging processes.
"The 3M relationship with Microsoft further illustrates our dedication to solving critical supply chain and packaging concerns," said Mike Haldane, business manager at 3M's industrial services and solutions division. "Supply chain efficiency in packaging has been an unrealised opportunity in enterprise applications until now, and we're extremely pleased to be working with a leader like Microsoft."
This is the latest partnership that 3M has entered into. Last month, the group announced its acquisition of HighJump Software, a leading supply chain execution software company that also has close working relations with Microsoft.
As recently as November, HighJump announced its work with Microsoft to enhance existing solutions and make available several new applications to provide a broad and flexible collection of RFID-enabled solutions for warehouse management, visibility and tracking, shop floor data collection, and RFID compliance.