Simulating a log handler with Plant Simulation

By Matthias Heinicke

Introduction to the simulation of an 8-axis log handler in a sawmill with the Plant Simulation MultiPortalCrane library.

Simulation of a versatile portal crane log handler with 3 saw lines. Simulation model by Alexander Dilg, SimPlan AG. Customer: Holtec. Software: Siemens Tecnomatix Plant Simulation.

Sawmills traditionally use fleets of mobile, diesel-operated log handler trucks for storing and retrieving logs. However, the portal-crane based VPK LogHandler presents an alternative solution, addressing industry challenges by utilizing electric energy and reducing storage space requirements. Validating the output for such a complex material handler with static methods is impractical. Instead, this presentation explores how Tecnomatix Plant Simulation can simulate the VPK LogHandler and discusses process changes observed in the simulation study.

Industry challenges

In the sawing industry, wood is delivered in the form of cut tree trunks (logs) by truck or train. Preprocessing of logs includes debarking, butt removal, and crosscutting to length, followed by sorting by length, diameter and quality. Logs are then stored in wood stacks or piles (“Polter”) and fed to the saw line from there, traditionally using mobile log handler trucks. The goal of the log handler simulation is to replicate the operational processes and challenges of a sawmill’s log handling operations within a digital environment. This simulation aims to accurately model the movements, interactions and efficiencies of an 8-axis log handler, such as the VPK LogHandler, using the Plant Simulation MultiPortalCrane library.

By simulating the log handler’s behavior, the goal is to analyze and optimize various aspects of the sawmill’s operations, including throughput, storage capacity, resource utilization and overall efficiency. Ultimately, the simulation seeks to provide insights and recommendations for improving the performance and effectiveness of log handling processes in real-world sawmill operations.


Alexander Dilg, Senior Consultant and Simulation Engineer at SimPlan AG

Alexander Dilg, Senior Consultant and Simulation Engineer, SimPlan AG

Alexander Dilg, a Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. graduate from Technical University Darmstadt, has been with SimPlan AG since 2011, conducting over 60 material flow and logistics simulation projects with Tecnomatix Plant Simulation. Focusing on intralogistics and assembly lines, he also contributes to library development at SimPlan and is an active member of the Siemens online community as @AlexD_SimPlan.

Advantages of a VPK Log handler simulation

The VPK LogHandler offers several advantages over traditional log handler trucks. With skilled labor shortages, it provides a more attractive working environment and requires higher qualifications but fewer staff. Additionally, it promotes sustainability by utilizing electric energy instead of diesel fuel, leading to lower operating costs and CO2 emissions. Moreover, its design reduces space requirements, allowing for more storage volume per square meter and lower costs for floor space and surfacing.

Implementation in Plant Simulation

Implementation of the VPK LogHandler in Plant Simulation; Sawmill plant simulation

The implementation of the VPK LogHandler in Plant Simulation involves using the MultiPortalCrane library and the STEP-format for 3D graphics. The presentation discusses the basics and peculiarities of implementation, highlighting the challenges and solutions encountered.

Simulation results

Results from the simulation study reveal insights into the operational efficiency and logistical improvements offered by the VPK LogHandler. By simulating various scenarios, like different shift configurations and storage arrangements, the study identifies opportunities for optimizing throughput and storage capacity.

Simulating an 8-axis log handler in a sawmill with the MultiPortalCrane library has significantly reduced costs and improved operational efficiency. The simulation offers tangible benefits for addressing industry specific challenges and lays the groundwork for future advancements in material handling within the sawmill industry.

– Alexander Dilg, Senior Consultant and Simulation Engineer, SimPlan AG


In conclusion, the VPK LogHandler presents a compelling solution to challenges in the sawmill industry, offering significant cost savings and operational benefits. Simulation with Tecnomatix Plant Simulation provides a valuable tool for validating and optimizing the implementation of such dynamic processes.


At the 2024 Plant Simulation User Conference in Munich, Alexander Dilg will present a detailed exploration of the 8-axis log handler simulation in a sawmill using the Tecnomatix Plant Simulation MultiPortalCrane library. The lecture covers various aspects, including the sawmill industry’s challenges, project specifics, simulation model implementation and findings. Mr. Dilg highlights the advantages of the VPK Log Handler simulation, addressing labor shortages, sustainability concerns and space optimization.

The presentation delves into the intricacies of implementing the log handler simulation, discussing technical details, peculiarities and challenges encountered. Alex concludes with insights into the project’s outcomes, emphasizing cost savings, operational efficiencies and the necessity of material flow simulation for validation.

2024 Plant Simulation User Conference

The 2024 Plant Simulation User Conference takes place on June 6th, hosted at the Infinity Hotel in Munich, Germany. Following Realize LIVE Europe, this event offers an opportunity to delve into the latest advancements in Plant Simulation software. Attendees can expect engaging presentations, including insights on what’s new in Plant Simulation 2404, alongside discussions that could improve their approach to material flow simulation. Explore topics such as user-friendly modeling and simulation of manual production lines and empowering sustainability through decarbonization strategies.

Stay at the forefront of simulation technology. For more information, visit the Plant Simulation Software and Plant Simulation User Conference websites.


Other lectures at the 2024 Plant Simulation User Conference are, for example:
User-friendly modeling and simulation of manual production lines; Empowering sustainability: Decarbonization strategies in construction process management with the integration and benefits of Plant Simulation; Driving Sustainable Transformation: BSH’s Journey Towards CO2 Reduction in Enameling

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at