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Contract bricklaying and the path to commercialisation

Hi all,

I am taking this opportunity on our new blog platform to update you all on our progress to date, and the look ahead for FBR.

There are many exciting things that happen in and around the company on a daily basis, and it is difficult to convey the speed and trajectory of all the things that are going on at any one time. To say it is a very dynamic environment at the moment would be an understatement. As our CTO Mark Pivac revealed last week, we are in the midst of getting the first Hadrian X ready for outdoor testing, meaning it is a very busy time for our entire team.

At a corporate level, we are working to prepare the company to become a key service provider to the construction industry by offering Wall as a Service™, or WaaS™. Through extensive research and analysis conducted with our partners and external advisors, and through discussions with both brick and block manufacturers and large construction companies, it became clear that the fastest path to commercialisation for the Hadrian X technology was through a business model where we maintained control of our construction robots and their operation and maintenance.

The demand for automated bricklaying is immense, but to have construction companies or brick and block manufacturers add entirely new robotics divisions to their existing businesses through machine purchases presented a challenge to driving rapid adoption. Under the WaaS™ model the end customer is not required to train operators, invest significant capital upfront or further complicate their core businesses. Under the WaaS™ model, FBR will be able to retain full control of its intellectual property and protect the value of the opportunity.

Offering contract bricklaying services is the lower risk, higher value option when compared to collecting a small royalty from a single OEM. We can leverage highly specialised contract manufacturers for components and modules, with assembly of the Hadrian X robots in the continents of consumption, which is a model that has been highly successful for other globally recognised brands. This is one of the most significant decisions we have made as a company to date and one that presents a much stronger case for the preservation of FBR's future. We recognise just how valuable the technology we have developed is. The WaaS™ model will enable us to extract the maximum value from our technology over the longer term for our shareholders. In developing our commercial model we have kept a close eye on the payback period for each Hadrian X, and we will update the market on that in due course.

The opportunity to be a manufacturer of Hadrian X machines is very attractive to any global organisation, and we have an extraordinary team of professionals that will guide the company toward suitable production agreements and outcomes. Nothing has changed in terms of the value of the opportunity, or the value of our technology – only our knowledge and understanding of how best to keep it and where the demand and highest revenue streams actually reside.

Late last year, we entered into a partnership with Wienerberger AG, the world's largest producer of clay bricks and blocks, with a well-established footprint across 40 countries. In early December 2018, Wienerberger AG representatives Alexander Lehmden, Head of Product Management Wall Clay Building Materials Europe, and Sebastian van Droogenbroeck, Head of International Product Management Façade, visited FBR for a few days as part of the ongoing collaboration between Weinerberger and FBR which aims to introduce WaaS™ and Hadrian X to European markets.


The three-day workshop included a review and demonstration of Hadrian X and a detailed review of European market data. Weinerberger's existing block product range was discussed, and we also talked about the design of blocks optimised for the Hadrian X and different geographic regions in Europe. While we're keen to enter the European market with WaaS™, we want to be sure we get it absolutely right. To that end, we will take our time and will ensure we have completed all our testing and commercial trials of Hadrian X in Australia first.

The construction industry has not seen the introduction of anything like the Hadrian X since concrete pumping trucks in the 1970s, and we see many similarities as to how they were adopted, and how pivotal that technology is in building the cities of today. As a young man, I made extra money on the weekends with teams of guys pushing wheelbarrows of concrete onto residential home slabs. Today it is rare for concrete to be moved this way even over very short distances. FBR is on a similar journey, at a time when the appetite for change is high, and the market for our technology is expanding every day.

Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our great team, who for the first time in history, designed, created and demonstrated to the world that we could build a machine that can build complete and complex structures from a computer model, without the need to put people in harm's way. If you look back on the different machines and gadgets that have been designed and patented around the world over the past 120 years in this pursuit, this is an amazing achievement and I am very proud to have been a part of it.

I look forward to using this platform to keep everyone up to speed on our progress and any new and exciting things that sit on our horizon, remembering of course that we are often limited to what we can communicate with all of the materiality issues and market sensitive factors that must be considered before doing so.

Mike Pivac
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director
FBR Limited