Construction equipment at work

2D Vs. 3D Machine Control: Which Is Right for Your Alaska Construction Company?

Machine control technology can provide your Alaska construction company with many competitive benefits, from improving accuracy and productivity to lowering your operating and maintenance costs over time. When considering the best solution for your business, equipment owners often face the choice of investing in 2D or 3D options. Both 2D and 3D machine control systems offer unique advantages to companies, and the right answer for your business comes down to the way you operate and the types of projects you consistently tackle.

At GPS Alaska, we’re committed to providing the best technology-driven solutions for our customers backed by top-notch training and support. If you’re not sure which solution is best for your company, give us a call and we’ll talk you through the equipment that will best meet your needs
Here’s a rundown on the difference between 2D and 3D machine control systems and the main factors you need to consider when choosing which is best for your budget and needs.

Want to skip ahead and find the best solutions for your business? Contact our team and get a free quote today. 

What Is a 2D Machine Control System?

2D machine control systems are the foundation for machine control. It is a scalable, affordable option that is easier to set up and use. These systems use the physical landscape to make elevation references, utilizing tools such as lasers, slope sensors, or sonic trackers used in conjunction with mounted sensors. By measuring the vertical position of equipment, 2D systems allow operators to more accurately measure the depth or distance from a blade, bucket, and screed to the target design.  Screed is the part of the paver that lays out the asphalt on the road.

The Benefits of 2D Machine Control Systems

With 2D machine control systems, construction companies can upgrade their processes with a lower entry cost and less training. And while it’s a less sophisticated solution than 3D machine control, these systems provide substantial benefits for operators, including providing more precise measurements, offering more efficient use of machinery, and reducing the number of people required on the ground.

What Is 3D Machine Control?

3D machine control systems utilize all the same components as 2D systems, but they also implement 3D location technology, such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and robotic total stations to provide even more in-depth information on exact grade location.

3D GNSS machine control systems use a model to control the cutting edge of the blade, reducing or eliminating manual grade staking. They also allow you to always track your position on the worksite. And while 2D systems can only take vertical measurements, 3D systems have the added advantage of positioning equipment horizontally as well.

The Benefits of 3D Machine Control Systems

Like 2D systems, 3D machine control helps increase precision and efficiency. While 3D systems require more training and upfront investment, they offer faster ROI and better performance. If you’re looking to do more than just measure depth and distance on the worksite, 3D GNSS machine control systems are a better fit for your needs. 3D systems can also tackle more complex landscapes.

How Are Models Built for 3D Machine Control Systems?

One of the most challenging aspects of 3D machine control systems is the time and training it takes to prepare models. Not all companies have someone with the skillset to gather data and build a 3D model. Some companies rely on experts, like our team at GPS Alaska, to create and integrate these models. While simple models can sometimes be created within the infield design function of the control box, more complicated projects require a more extensive process involving design software, such as CAD.

Top Considerations for 2D Vs. 3D Machine Control

If you’re still not sure whether a 2D or 3D machine control system is best for your business, these are the main factors you need to consider:

  • The complexity of the project: More complex projects are often best tackled with 3D machine control systems. If you consistently take on large construction projects with big sites that have a rough terrain, a 2D system might not cut it. Lasers are not as effective at adjusting to frequent elevation changes, whereas a 3D system follows a model and uses GNSS to navigate these changes.
  • Cost of investment and ROI: The low price point on 2D machine control systems is attractive for companies that have minimal grading needs. However, larger companies with more sophisticated projects will likely get the best ROI from 3D machine control systems as they provide the most functionality, accuracy, and efficiency. Both types of machines can make a big difference in increasing your company’s bottom line by cutting out time on the ground, increasing speed and quality, and more efficiently utilizing your machines and fuel consumption.
  • The best use of time: In the construction business, the time you take to complete a project has a direct impact on how profitable it is. If you do high-quality work at a faster rate, you’re more likely to keep customers happy and take on more projects to scale and grow your company. And while it take more time to become familiar with 3D machine systems, GPS Alaska is here to help you integrate your new system and provide training and support as needed.
  • The functionality you want: A 2D system simply can’t do everything a 3D machine control system can. If you want to take horizontal measurements, get the most precise data possible, have GNSS capabilities, and allow multiple operators to work off the same model, you’ll need a 3D system.

Grow Your Bottom Line With Machine Control Systems

GPS Alaska is the top provider of Topcon positioning products, including machine control systems, in Alaska. If you’re looking to grow your construction or surveying business by purchasing the products that will best maximize your profits and increase efficiency, we’ll guide you to the best products for your needs.
We have many useful tools to help guide you in your decision, including ROI calculators, and we offer extensive training, installation, maintenance, and support. We also provide multiple financing options, rent out equipment, and offer (RTO)rent-to-own plans, so you can spread out your investment and scale your business at a rate that makes the most sense to you.
Whether you are new to purchasing a machine control system or are considering upgrading from a 2D system to a 3D one, we’ll walk you through every step of the process and get you a quote for free. We also provide 3D modeling services and can help you make high-quality, advanced 3D models for your system.

Ready to grow your business and increase your ROI with a machine control system? Contact our expert team and find the best solution for your company