No wonder Australia’s largest brick maker has increased its stake in a Perth-based robotics company, leaving its human rivals in the dust. The robot can lay 1,000 bricks in just one hour – achieving in 48 hours what a human crew would need to accomplish in four to six weeks of hard work.
Patented by cousins Mark and Mike Bivac in 2005 (more than 10 years after Mark first dreamed up the idea in 1994) the FBR’s dynamically stable mobile robot built its first residence in Mexico for local home builder GP Vivienda group in 2020, Building two home structures side by side at the same time.
That same year, her robot Hadrian X built a community center in Western Australia with Archistruct, and also completed construction of the first two-story building.
It also partnered with one of WA’s largest developers, Inspired Homes, signing a $630,000 contract for the walls and panels of 16 two-story homes.
The company was formerly known as Fastbrick Robotics before it was acquired by investment firm DMY Capital Limited for $5 million in 2015.
After 100 prototypes, 150 engineers and millions of dollars spent on development, the company is set to disrupt the construction industry globally, creating US and European entities with around 100 projects in the pipeline including in the UAE.
Brickworks, Australia’s largest brick maker, recently increased its stake to an undisclosed amount in the ASX-listed robotic construction company.
The next generation of robots is currently being assembled and will be ready for site in 2023 – the company is developing a 3D concrete printer and a roofing robot system.
Ultimately, one of the company’s goals is to provide safe and adequate housing for everyone, said commercial director Kel Chivers Fifth District.
“There is an acute, chronic and systematic shortage of housing,” he said.
“Construction has a lot of safety challenges…we like to say [this robot is] Safer, faster, more accurate, and less wasteful.”
How it works?
With a dynamically stable telescopic arm extending 28 meters into the air, Hadrian X calculates the location of each brick from a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model, then cuts and places the bricks sequentially from one fixed location.
“It’s a self-contained, road-legal robot, a complete end-to-end solution,” said Chevers.
“You put the granules in the back, and the robot slices the bricks, moving them to the top of the beam and placing them precisely.
“The ideal situation is we have humans there to supervise, and they load the platforms and then they can sit there and have a cup of coffee and watch it.”
Labor shortage, construction waste automation race
It’s not the first automated construction technology to hit the market, with few other companies vying for the top spot — amid concerns that the technology could displace workers in the construction industry.
But, amid a labor shortage, Chevers said, the robot has the potential to make work cheaper, faster, and less wasteful — and avoid Expensive delays costing the industry due to an acute shortage of skilled labour.
“We want construction workers to use this technology – the market is so huge and there’s no big problem with taking anyone off,” he said.
“Covid has brought to light our dependence on human labor and imported labor… It has opened people’s minds to changing the way we do things.”
The technology can currently build up to two floors, but the next generation will be able to reach four floors, significantly reducing construction waste.
“We completed construction with zero waste on site, we are at the forefront of environmental improvement and change and we can still improve from here,” Chivers said.
“Working with robots is amazing…there is nothing like it in the world, it’s so energizing to see this cutting-edge technology.”
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