Manufacturer 3M Co., St. Paul, Minn., will collaborate with Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., to improve its 3M Integrated Packing Tool. 3M's Integrated Packaging Tool is a Web-based, data-enabled system that centralizes all packaging information. It was built with Microsoft .NET and uses Microsoft SQL Server as its back-end database. Some of the issues addressed with the solution include compliance, product surety, time to market and reduction of packaging costs. "We're taking the next step forward in coupling our manufacturing and supply-chain experience with the best available software and services," said W. James McNerney, 3M chairman and CEO. 3M began development of the solution in 1999 to help manage its own packaging supply chain. After seeing internal benefits, such as improved productivity and cost savings, 3M decided to offer the integrated packaging solution commercially. It's currently offered to companies across several vertical industries, including consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, life sciences, automotive and chemicals.