3M Offers New Packaging Services

Aims to cut costs for manufacturers by applying Six Sigma to this "last frontier of operational excellence"

Aims to cut costs for manufacturers by applying Six Sigma to this "last frontier of operational excellence"

St. Paul, MN — October 16, 2003 — 3M has introduced a suite of tools and services designed to help companies manage packaging-related issues more cost effectively.

The manufacturer said it formed its new Global Packaging Services group in response to a fast-growing global market demand for more efficient packaging management solutions. Target industries for the services include food and beverage, life sciences, industrial chemicals and consumer packaged goods.

3M, which sells some 60,000 products, said that its own manufacturing experience has given the company a solid operational understanding of the critical issues in packaging, including enabling compliance, speeding time to market, managing product surety, reducing packaging costs, and increasing productivity and throughput.

"Packaging is one of the last remaining frontiers in operational excellence," said John Pohl, division vice president for 3M's Industrial Services and Solutions Division. "Most companies focus on [research and development] and manufacturing but have not considered packaging to be a strategic tool or a cost center. This missed opportunity is costing companies millions of dollars."

Using Six Sigma methodology, 3M evaluated its own manufacturing processes and determined that it would be possible to reduce packaging-related expenses by $50 million over a five-year period if it could streamline and centralize the global packaging process.

"We worked with in-house experts in package engineering, logistics, information technology, manufacturing and other disciplines," Pohl said. "We combined best-of-breed packaging products, services and processes with supplier resources. This strategic collaboration of tools and resources has formed the basis of our new business, which leverages our many years of learning, saving significant time and expense."

3M Global Packaging Services' offerings are designed to help customers reduce packaging costs per unit produced. One of the key solutions includes the Integrated Packaging Tool from 3M, a Web-based system that integrates structural, textual and graphical packaging information. This tool also enables customers to integrate disparate databases, artwork, internal and external business rules, and equipment such as scanners, printers and other input/output devices.

Additional services include optimization of customers' processes, packaging design, packaging line engineering and packaging automation.

"At 3M, we saved a significant amount in a one-year period by re-engineering our packaging process in select locations and by implementing the Integrated Packaging Tool," said Pohl. "We're ready to put that expertise and experience to work for other companies around the world."

Mike Haldane, business manager for 3M Professional Services, said that the company starts by evaluating a client's unique packaging needs. "Then we develop a solution that best meets those needs," Haldane said. "The solution may include 3M products and services and/or complementary services from 3M's partners."