Mike Pivac, an engineer from Perth, WA, has developed an automated machine, named the Hardian, which has the capacity to build a new home in just two days. The company aims for the machine to have the capacity of laying 1,000 bricks per hour, and build 150 new houses per year. Through utilising a computer-aided design program, the machine is able to develop a program of a house/structure, and from this lay bricks in the sequence required.
The ABBTF Annual report indicated that in the 2014/15 year that there is a skill shortage in the Australian bricklaying industry. Presently, the average age of bricklayers in Australia is 45 years old, with the average age of retirement being in the late 40s due to the physical demands of the work. With increased pressure from the Housing and Industry Association, the shortage is becoming more prominent, as it usually takes bricklayers an average of 6-8 weeks to build a house.
The bricklaying machine will save home buyers anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 on their purchases as a result of the stark timing differences. Pivac notes that the idea behind the machine is for bricklayers to work alongside it, as its intention is to fill in the skill shortage in the industry. It is also expected to increase the retirement age of bricklayers in Australia as it takes out the physical demands of the job, allowing them to focus their time on more skilled, career improving tasks.
The bricklaying machine has the potential to minimise the high prices of property in Australia both through the savings made by customers from manual work and also through increasing the supply of housing.
Fastbrick Robotics, the company behind the Hardian, began launched onto the ASX in early November, raising $5.75 million in its first week. They aim to sell their product first within Western Australia in 2017, before moving on to national and international markets.
With this newfound ability for automated machinery into the bricklaying industry, it calls into question the other housing and construction-related industries that may also benefit from such a change.