Vexillum's Work Design System

Case StudyFrom Paper to Precision Workflows

Alembic's partnership with Vexillum produced a platform that revolutionises heavy equipment maintenance workflows by digitising paper-based processes. Leveraging Ash, Phoenix LiveView and Elixir, Alembic delivered a real-time web application and a native iOS work delivery app in Swift and SwiftUI. This enabled Vexillum to streamline work design, enhance safety, and reduce costs swiftly. This collaboration underscores Alembic's commitment to lean, agile solutions and its ability to deliver impactful software efficiently.

Vexillum is streamlining work design, enhance safety, and reducing costs

Vexillum is focused on providing a digital Work Design system that is based on standardised work, the foundation of the renowned Toyota Production System. Vexillum provides tools to design and execute complex maintenance work for customers with large heavy asset bases, including mining, oil and gas, transport and utilities, to reduce downtime and improve productivity. Vexillum’s tools and approach empower the frontline to continuously improve their work so it can be executed safely and efficiently.

The Challenge: From Paper to Precision

In many of their clients’ workplaces, work instructions are manually authored in Microsoft Word and are based on the equipment rather than the interaction of the workers with the equipment. There is very little detail on how to actually perform the work and the lack of structure prevents detailed analysis of correct sequencing to minimise movement and other non-value adding activities. A common example is not having the correct tool at the work front, resulting in valuable time wasted walking back to the tool bench. With large assets, such as locomotives, the walking time adds up! The lack of structure also makes a detailed analysis of risks and correct sequencing of countermeasures considerably more difficult.

Existing manual or paper-based solutions also make it difficult for supervisors to support their frontline workers as they execute the work.

Recognising the need for a solution that could navigate the complexities of detailed work modelling and real-time feedback, Vexillum partnered with Alembic to develop and deliver a lean and pragmatic solution that would allow Vexillum to undertake complex work design quickly and efficiently. A tool that would bring improvements in cost, safety and downtime to Vexillum clients.

Crafting the Solution: Harnessing Real-Time Capabilities

Utilising the powerful real-time interactive capabilities of Phoenix LiveView, Alembic delivered a web app that allows the users to break down work into individual elements, locate the elements spatially on schematics and reorder and reallocate these work elements. By capturing details of work tasks such as required equipment and time taken to complete each task, the application is then able to calculate the optimal path around the worksite between each task to minimise overall time taken. Users reorder work tasks via an intuitive drag and drop interface, and are immediately shown the effect on the overall duration, allowing users to fine-tune their work design.

Dependencies between tasks, such as verifying identified risks have countermeasures, and tools are collected before they are needed, are automatically validated in real-time as the work design evolves, ensuring a seamless workflow with immediate feedback to the user.

Outcome: Speed, Efficiency, and Cost-Effectiveness

By leveraging the power of Ash, Elixir and Phoenix, Alembic was able to deliver a compelling solution within a short time frame and with a small development team. This has allowed Vexillum to take their product to market quickly and at low cost, giving them a competitive advantage in their field.

We had an idea that the Elixir tech and its toolchain would be ideal for developing our tool suite. Elixir has a compelling balance of robustness, from its heritage in the telecoms sector, and developer productivity. Our roadmap takes us into real-time feedback with frontline workers which, again, is a great fit for Elixir. Alembic, who is the leading professional services organisation for Elixir in Australia, seemed to be a great fit. Between our shared vision for what’s possible and their Technical Director’s Flight Simulator, created using Phoenix and LiveView, we were really impressed.

We know that our product is sophisticated and will become more so over time. We needed to find a company that could help keep the complexity in the business domain, where it belongs, and keep the tech stack as simple as possible without compromising the outcome. We also believe that small teams can also deliver larger than anticipated outcomes, and Alembic has proved that: We’ve never had more than two Alembic team members on the project at a time and that’s worked really well for us.

Our confidence in Alembic grew every day throughout the project, and as we kick off our next phase of growth we wouldn’t use any other partner to help us deliver our core tech. Their default is ‘yes’ (but have you considered…) and nothing we ask is too much trouble. Their technologists are top notch, and the way they are able to implement software with Ash, Elixir, Phoenix and LiveView is extremely impressive. They’re really great to work with.

John Jessop, CTO

Why we love Vexillum

We were drawn to Vexillum's ambitious vision of revolutionising work design in industrial settings. Their willingness to explore unconventional solutions and embrace emerging technologies aligned perfectly with our ethos of delivering impactful software efficiently. The collaborative spirit exhibited by Vexillum's team allowed us to push the boundaries of what's possible, resulting in a partnership characterised by mutual respect and continuous innovation. We are proud to have played a role in empowering Vexillum to lead the way in digital work design, and we look forward to continuing our journey together.

The Vexillum tech stack

Just some of the tools we used on this project

Elixir Logo
Phoenix Framework Logo
Phoenix Framework Logo
Ash framework
Tailwind CSS Logo
PostgreSQL Elephant Logo
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