Continuous Improvement at SelfLube

5 Apr 2024

SelfLube is a Continuous Improvement company.  This means that we are engaged in a relentless drive to eliminate waste, mainly by small incremental improvements, which over time can make quite a difference - a sort of tortoise rather than hare approach.  A spark of genius is nice but not really necessary. What is necessary is a fierce commitment to keep at it, day after day after day week after week.

Why Not Go Big?

Big is nice but the problem with Big is that it comes around once in a blue moon.  So if you are going Big you might be waiting a long time.  But, just waiting is a form of waste.  So instead of eliminating waste you would be creating it - not exactly where you want to be.  

The Beauty of Small

Small is different. It’s with you all the time. There is no waiting around.  Every day you have an opportunity to accomplish something.  The vast majority of time it will be small.  But, small adds up and at the end of the year it might really add up to something.  Maybe something big.   

And, who knows. If you do something like this every day, you’ll get a lot of practice in and you might get pretty good at it. 

That’s SelfLube in a nutshell.  We’ve practiced Continuous Improvement for a long time and we’ve gotten pretty good at it.  How good? Well, for a 15 year period when inflation was lower and metal prices stable we didn’t raise our prices.  Continuous Improvement covered all inflation and employee raises.  

SelfLube Plant Manager, Chris Childress, puts it this way: "It was decided early on that for our company to thrive, complacency was not an option. As management, we believe there's always a better way to do things.

A Sustainable Approach

Elimination of waste, one of the main tenets of Continuous Improvement, means using fewer of the Earth’s resources to produce something. This, by definition, means becoming more Sustainable.  Continuous Improvement and Sustainability close cousins. You practice one and you invariably get the other. But there is always the problem of motivation.

In the movie Beau Geste, Sgt. LaJeune famously shouts encouragement to the new recruits with the words, “March or Die”. In a competitive business world companies are faced with something just as stark, “Improve or Die”.  Continuous Improvement, mainly through the elimination of waste, is a pretty good way to stay alive.

This creates an interesting situation: Companies that are highly motivated to adopt Continuous Improvement as a matter of survival automatically embrace Sustainability.  You can’t get much better than this.