Robotic technology company FBR Limited (ASX: FBR) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Brickworks Building Products Pty Ltd to create a 50:50 joint venture for the provision of robotic building capabilities to the residential building and construction sector.
The three-year agreement seeks to demonstrate the technology behind FBR’s Hadrian X fully-autonomous bricklaying robot, designed to build an entire house in less than three days.
Under the proposed joint venture, Brickworks Building Products – a wholly-owned subsidiary of multi-billion dollar Australian company Brickworks (ASX: BKW) – will retain exclusive rights to manufacture and supply customised blocks for use by Hadrian X in Australia under licence.
It is not the first time FBR has partnered with a leading brick company.
In September, the company struck a manufacturing deal with Europe’s Wienerberger Group, currently the world’s largest producer of bricks.
The FBR-Brickworks joint venture will commence with a pilot program in Western Australia initially focused on residential construction.
During the program, FBR will engage with building companies to provide the structural brickwork for residential homes on demand through commercial building contracts.
Hadrian X will build the walls of these homes using Brickworks blocks with construction adhesive.
It is anticipated the program will deliver first operating revenues for FBR on a ‘per square metre of wall built’ basis, while proving the effectiveness of the WaaS business model in Australia.
WaaS has become FBR’s preferred business model based on its global scalability and the perceived potential to maximise long-term value for shareholders.
It involves partnering with masonry product manufacturers and suppliers who have an extensive customer base of building and construction companies, thereby driving demand for the WaaS product.
Under the model, the end customer receives the benefit of robotic construction without having to train operators or invest significant amounts of upfront capital.
FBR chief executive officer Mike Pivac said the Brickworks MoU provides an ideal opportunity to commercialise Hadrian X.
“Partnering with a company of the scale and reputation of Brickworks is a significant step forward for us and provides an excellent opportunity to introduce WaaS to the construction industry,” he said.
“We will be the first robotic WaaS entity established in the world and our pilot program will serve to further validate Hadrian X and this unique business model which we believe can be rolled out worldwide.”
FBR and Brickworks have also agreed to collaborate on the design, manufacture, compliance certification and testing of clay and concrete masonry blocks for use by Hadrian X in the Australian market.
The collaboration will commence with the development of a block product suitable for builders in Western Australia.
At mid-afternoon, shares in FBR were up 17.39% to $0.135, while shares in Brickworks were up 2.23% to $16.705.