Robotic bricklayer FBR paves way for US joint venture with conditional purchase orders

Robotic bricklayer FBR paves way for US joint venture with conditional purchase orders

Perth-headquartered robotic bricklaying technology group FBR (ASX: FBR) has paved a pathway to potentially selling 300 of its Hadrian X robots at $2 million each in the US, on the condition a joint venture eventuates following a demonstration program with CRH Ventures Americas.

CRH Ventures is a subsidiary of CRH plc, one of the largest concrete block suppliers in the United States, and has executed binding agreements with FBR - formerly known as Fastbrick Robotics - for a demonstration program, including an option to trigger a joint venture.

If the joint venture comes to fruition, a US$40 million ($61 million) rolling loan facility will be established and there will be an initial binding conditional order for 20 of the Hadrian units, which in May last year were shown to be able to lay 300 blocks a minute.

If the initial orders hit certain gross margin metrics for CRH, there are conditional orders for much larger volumes to follow.

But firstly, FBR will be providing one Hadrian X for completing test builds, and the US partner has paid for an option to collaborate further if the demonstration is successful with an aim to build up to 10 houses in Florida.

Testing will involve a factory acceptance test at FBR's premises in Perth where it must be proven that the technology can lay at least 285 blocks per hour using only a tablet to control the Hadrian X and a crew of no more than three people.

A site acceptance test will then be necessary in an outdoor build at an agreed location in Florida to the same requirements as the indoor Perth tests. 

Should FBR pass both these benchmarks, the construction of external walls for 5-10 houses will commence and the demonstration program will be deemed as complete once five homes are built.

"The agreements with CRH Ventures and its affiliates are another significant step in FBR’s commercialisation journey and demonstrate a clear path to scale and profitability with the commencement of the joint venture," says FBR managing director and chief executive officer Mike Pivac.

"We have set a clear strategy for the Company to enter the United States market, and we will be doing so with the assistance of one of the largest concrete block manufacturers in the country.

"We are excited to arrive in a new international market to showcase the capabilities of our technology and commence our scaling plan with the financial and operational support of one of the world’s leaders in building materials production."

CRH head Eduardo Gomez is optimistic about the partnership.

"This collaboration exemplifies CRH's dedication to pioneering sustainable construction solutions," he says.

"By leveraging FBR's cutting-edge robotics, we aim to redefine how homes are built, contributing to a more efficient and eco-friendly future."

In November last year FBR announced its exclusivity period in Mexico for its Wall as a Service (WaaS) work with GP Vivienda had come to a close, having announced two years prior that the collaboration could potentially lead to the construction of 2,000 to 5,000 homes. 

FBR stated that it maintained a working relationship with GP Vivienda having completed a number of the other milestones under the term sheet together, and would consider on an ongoing basis the commercial benefit of establishing a WaaS operating entity in Mexico after commencing operations in Florida.

At the time of publication, FBR shares are in a trading halt pending a capital raise announcement. 

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