ABB wins landmark modernization project on a key Smurfit Kappa facility in Mexico

ABB has secured a landmark contract to modernize Smurfit Kappa‘s paper machine number 5 (PM5) at its corrugated cardboard plant in Cerro Gordo, near Mexico City. ABB will provide the packaging manufacturer with its distributed control system (DCS), ABB Ability™ System 800xA®, as well as a complete package for the paper machine’s drive section. This comprises the most advanced drive and motor technologies on the market and has been specifically designed to optimize the performance of PM5.

Smurfit Kappa is a leading global provider of packaging solutions, operating in over 35 countries. The group has been active in Mexico since 1957 and has recently increased its production capacity in the country, investing over $350 million (USD) since 2018.

This project marks the first collaboration between the two companies in this region and opens a new era of operational efficiency for one of the packaging manufacturer’s most active machines in Mexico. This modernization will transform PM5 into a highly productive and more efficient machine, capable of meeting the new demands placed upon it.

Smurfit Kappa was seeking a partner with unparalleled expertise to carry out this critical modernization project. The manufacturer needed systems to operate at optimal speed and tension levels, while minimizing downtime. ABB proved to be the ideal choice, given the Group’s proven track record in the pulp and paper industry in Latin America and its deep understanding of paper machine processes.

ABB’s overall technology will help ensure optimal torque and speed control of the equipment in the sectional part of the paper machine for years to come. This is achieved through a combination of factors such as direct torque control (DTC). This offers precise control and consistent quality while minimizing waste over a long period. ABB guarantees a system uptime of 98.5% for a three-month period following the machine’s commissioning in 2025. This translates to a maximum downtime of just 33 hours during this period.

“We are impressed with ABB’s deep industry knowledge and commitment to exceeding expectations,” said Mario Olvera, Engineering and Project Director at Smurfit Kappa Mexico. “We are confident that their expertise will help maximize the performance and efficiency of PM5. This project represents a significant step forward for Smurfit Kappa in Mexico, and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration with ABB.”

“Partnering with Smurfit Kappa on this major project will ensure optimal equipment design, superior control performance and seamless commissioning,” said Diego Navas, Commercial Director for ABB’s Pulp & Paper business in North America. “A team of ABB specialists will work alongside our customer on the machine to achieve significant gains, such as increased production, improved efficiency and reduced operating costs.”

The scope of the project goes beyond the simple supply of equipment. Drawing on its proven experience, ABB will provide advanced engineering and commissioning services to smoothly support the transformation of PM5. With its ABB Ability™ System 800xA® and remote access platform, ABB will be able to offer customer support from anywhere in the world, at any time. In addition, the control panels and safety features installed throughout the machine will facilitate collaboration on all operations in complete safety.