Kimberly-Clark Bajio, Mexico: Efficient operations with advanced technology and dedicated people

Jul 30, 2015

Kimberly-Clark’s Bajio mill in Mexico houses four tissue machines, a de-inking plant, several converting lines and a staff of just over 1,000 people. Their most recent tissue machine installation, an Advantage DCT 200 line, started up in 2014. The reasons behind the decision to build the new line in Bajio mill were its good infrastructure, well trained personnel and consistent record of achieving good results.

Bernardo Aragón Paasch, Director of Operations at Kimberly-Clark Mexico (KCM), is satisfied with how the new TM 4 tissue line project has evolved: “The Bajio project fulfilled our expectations and the machine is reliable and delivers as promised. Our long term partnership with Valmet includes seven tissue machine projects. Their people are skilled, familiar with our operations and know how to execute projects well. They understand our needs and what it takes to achieve our goals.”

With more than 60 years in the Mexican market, KCM is built on a solid basis with high flexibility on the manufacturing side. They use various pulp mixes where the main part consists of recycled fibers from their own deinking plant. The product portfolio is split between consumer products (85%), away from home (8%) and exports (7%). Bathroom tissue and diapers are the big two.

“We are a multi-brand and multi-tier company producing a number of different products and qualities. TM 4, which can produce high quantities at good quality and low cost, is a perfect fit for us.”

Kimberly-Clark’s Bajio mill is located in San Juan del Rio, a two hours’ drive from Mexico City.

“Dedication, trust and team spirit”

Asking Bernardo Aragon what is most important for KCM when selecting a tissue machine supplier he first replies: “Well, we obviously need a very good price on the tissue machine and on the asset as a whole. We also need excellent performance and reliable technologies.”

But in addition to leading technology with excellent performance, and being built to last a great number of years, there are also other values important for a good project. Values like dedication, trust and team spirit.

“We believe in working closely with a vendor who can provide support with engineering, construction and start-up processes, and who has a strong commitment to the start-up date. What particularly impressed me in this project was how we managed to meet the very tight start-up schedule.”

The TM 4 machine crew forms a dedicated team, working for efficient results.

Significant energy savings

TM 4 is the first tissue machine equipped with an Advantage ViscoNip press within the KC organization and it is also the first in Mexico.

“We are mainly using the flexibility in linear load to reach the maximum sheet dryness and reduce drying energy. Energy savings are very important for us. We mostly run at 150 kN/m and have reduced the overall energy consumption by 15% compared to other conventional machines,” Laurentino Rodriguez, Mill Manager, says.

A “push button” tissue machine

“We are learning fast and the new features are working well. I really like the ViscoNip for the savings in steam and gas but also the new hood for improving safety,” says Process Engineer Marco Jimenez, who is today in charge of the TM 4 operations.

The new line operates continuously at speeds of 1,900-2,000 m/min with very good formation and moisture profiles. TM 4 has a stable production of around 170 tonnes of tissue per day, depending on type of product and quality of the pulp. The grade is mostly bathroom tissue made from a mix of 80% recycled fiber and 20% virgin fiber, but also some towel tissue for export.

“The performance tests, which were completed in less than three months after start-up were very straightforward and exceeded our expectations when it comes to speed and output, as well as energy and water consumption. The machine has an efficiency rate between 93 and 95 percent. This is a “push button” machine, it’s so easy to stop and start-up again. The project execution went very smoothly and was based on respect and trust in each other. I would say, team spirit is a key to success. We consider ourselves more like friends than as customer and supplier,” states Jose Luis Dominguez, KCM Project Manager.

The Advantage DCT 200 tissue line from Valmet started up on June 30, 2014 but still looks brand new.

A world class benchmark

Working closely together also involves efficient information sharing. To keep the teams updated it is of utmost importance to have instant access to the latest versions of manuals, drawings or training material.

Laurentino Rodriguez says: “We had good communication between the teams during the whole project. All the information needed was always available and easy to find on the Valmet web portal.”

He concludes his impression of the TM 4 project, “The machine matches our goals and so do Valmet. We are very happy, with the project, the machine and the operations. We consider this project a world class benchmark all the way from execution, to installation, start-up and performance.”

Kimberly-Clark Bajio mill in a nutshell

Kimberly-Clark’s Bajio mill is located in San Juan del Rio, a two hours’ drive from Mexico City. The mill was established in 1981 in Mexico, and is today a well-managed and highly efficient tissue mill delivering 258,000 tonnes of napkin, towel and bathroom tissue per year. Their most recent tissue machine installation, TM 4, has quickly become Kimberly-Clark Mexico’s benchmark in energy costs. The corporation sends people here from far and wide for visits to learn how to operate at speeds up to 2,000 meters per minute with 15% reduced energy consumption as compared to other conventional tissue lines.