Expo Spotlight with Mike Pivac
Q&A with Mike Pivac, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of FBR
The first time you see the Hadrian X operate, you might experience a small rush of adrenaline as if you’ve just stepped into a time-machine and seen a glimpse of the future. A future where construction moves with incredible speed and accuracy, where three bedroom, two bathroom home structures are built in less than three days. Managing Director and CEO of the Hadrian X, Mike Pivac is passionate about advancing the future of industrial automation with innovative technologies and we’re thrilled to be showcasing FBR at Expo 2020.
Q, We understand that FBR, designs, develops, builds and operates dynamically stabilised robots to address global needs. Where are you located, how many staff do you employ and how long have you been in business?
A. FBR is located in Perth Western Australia, and we currently employ 60 staff. I have been working on this project for the last 9 years, the past 5+ years as a publicly listed Company. The technology itself has been under development for the past 15 years.
Q. What’s your role and what does your typical day look like?
A. I am the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of FBR. My day typically starts at around 7am, responding to emails that have arrived overnight from abroad, and also to the Team, so they are hitting the ground running each day without waiting for my responses. Meetings and calls continue through the day, and in between I move around within the different departments to get a real feel for the work being undertaken, and to engage one on one with as many of our Team as I can. I do not have a desk, preferring to work from wherever my presence is needed at the time.
Q. Tell us about FBR’s involvement with Expo Dubai 2020
A. Having followed Expo since I was young, I always saw the event as the ultimate global showcase of exciting things that were soon to be a part of our everyday lives. I believe that what FBR has created will become part of the Construction universe in the years ahead, so it makes sense that Expo be the obvious platform to present our creation to the world. Our involvement in this event is going to be one of the real highlights of our journey so far and working closely with the Expo team in Dubai and Australia to make this happen has been an energising experience for myself and the FBR Team.
Q. What are you hoping to achieve through your involvement?
A. We would be excited to be involved with Expo2020 regardless of where it was held, however the UAE and the GCC region more broadly is a very important market for FBR and coincides well with our market entry strategy and timing. Having millions of visitors attending, and being able to use the Australian Pavilion, which is a showcase in itself, as a platform to present FBR to the world is an amazing opportunity. Of course COVID19 has presented us with an unexpected set of challenges to work around, and we are hopeful of being a strong and valuable participant for the Expo Team. They have been understanding and supportive throughout the past year as all of their own plans have been disrupted, however I am confident that the energy and drive they continue to demonstrate will ensure a successful event regardless of what comes their way.
Q. Australian businesses are renowned for being innovative and resilient, tell me how COVID affected your business and how you responded to these challenges.
A. The past 12-15 months has been challenging on so many fronts. With so much uncertainty to deal with, I saw the need to respond very quickly to the Pandemic and resize FBR in a way that would give us time to better understand the environment ahead, enable us to continue with a refined development program, whilst keeping a real world demonstration capability within the team. We were literally loading vehicles and preparing to deploy the Hadrian to the first ever real world residential building environment when I decided to delay the event until we had some clarity on what the landscape would be for FBR in the months and years ahead and what resources would be required to deliver on our objectives. This proved to be the right strategy, as we have now conducted a number of residential and commercial projects with the Hadrian X for real customers over the past year. Here we are now in July 2021, and while there has been progress globally on dealing with the Pandemic, we are far from being back to where we were from a travel and business development perspective, which is a real barrier when you are developing a product with a global market in front of it. We have all become accustomed to using virtual platforms for meetings but it is less than ideal, so we are hopeful of a gradual return to a more predictable business environment, growing FBR and scaling the business internationally.
Q. What do you see as the biggest benefit of doing business with Australia ?
A. Australia is a very important market for FBR, and even though we are limited internationally right now, we have a very buoyant construction environment underway here, so we are being kept very busy refining and improving our technology and product offering, and working with partner organisations to establish a fruitful pathway for the future.
Q. Tell us about the Hadrian X
A. The Hadrian X is the world’s first and only fully mobile, truck mounted, stabilised and autonomous brick and block laying robot, designed to integrate into the current building process to save time, improve accuracy, reduce masonry waste, and vastly improve construction site safety.