Pawley Lean Institute

Jabil provides muscle and more to Oakland University lean community internships

icon of a calendarDecember 16, 2020

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Jabil provides muscle and more to Oakland University lean community internships
Humble Design
Oakland University students, Humble Design Operations Manager Laura Corp, and personnel from Jabil Inc. teamed up to work on assembling a large rug rack for the Humble Design warehouse in Pontiac.

In the fall of 2019, Boston's Lean Enterprise Institute began a partnership with Oakland University's Pawley Lean Institute and the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department to support student interns’ work on improving the operational performance of community service organizations.

Humble Design, a Pontiac-based nonprofit that furnishes homes for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness, was the first community service organization to take advantage of the student internship program, but it has grown to include Jabil Inc., a manufacturing solutions provider with a strong commitment to lean manufacturing.

Jabil reached out to Oakland University after seeing an article on the partnership between the Pawley Lean Institute, the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, and the Lean Enterprise Institute working a student community service internship at Humble Design.

“Given the Humble Design location in Pontiac being near our facility, the commitment to lean at Jabil, and the valuable service that Humble Design provides to the community, we wanted to participate in this project,” said Karin Alcorn, operations manager for Jabil’s Auburn Hills facility, which provides manufacturing services for medical device and agricultural industries.

Dennis Wade, director of OU’s Pawley Lean Institute, said the institute was initially unsure how to utilize the resources Jabil provided, but this was quickly resolved as the student team began to make recommendations regarding warehouse operations, particularly in the areas of safety, warehouse layout, and materials to improve operations.

“Our students quickly learned that recommendations come with implementation challenges that may have not been foreseen including costs, materials, tools, supplies, and manpower,” said Robert Van Til, professor of lean studies at OU and chair of the ISE Department. “Jabil was a key component for our students to see their recommendations come to fruition and Humble Design was able to gain efficiencies within their warehouse operations.”

Humble Design
A rug rack in the Humble Design warehouse

In addition to attending students’ presentations, meeting with them in person and via Zoom, reviewing their progress, and providing suggestions and advice, Jabil personnel have also assembled and anchored heavy duty pallet racks at the Humble Design warehouse in Pontiac, and recently constructed a large rug storage system.

“The students had plans about what could be done in the warehouse, but were missing the expertise and resources to make it happen,” said Laura Corp, operations manager for Humble Design. “Jabil has been amazingly supportive of the OU students, which in turn has been a huge help to Humble. We are thankful for our partnership with them.”

The relationship between OU and Jabil continues to grow. The company will be supporting an OU student team to work with another community service organization during the 2021 winter semester, as well as a Jabil mentor to work with the students.

“This is a win-win for all parties involved,” Van Til said. “Oakland University lean students are getting practical field experience, organizations are partnering with us as sponsors supporting community service organizations, community service organizations are gaining value through lean thinking, and there’s an opportunity to grow this program within the Metro-Detroit area.”

For more information about Jabil Inc.,

To learn more about Humble Design, visit

For more information about Oakland University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering programs, visit

To learn more about the Pawley Lean Institute, visit

For more information about the Lean Enterprise Institute, visit

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