CONTENTS         Introduction Six sigma Process improvement Operations Management Customer Satisfaction Supply Chain Management HR policy Financials .

Nowadays.INTRODUCTION: A dabbawala (one who carries the box). The dabbawala originated when a person named Mahadeo Havaji Bachche started the lunch delivery service with about 100 men. There are 5000. Though the work sounds simple. again in an interesting way). The unique shape of the city and cheap train network make it affordable for this system to work here and only here. While fast food is booming as the only option for office workers in virtually every megacity in the world. The system works a bit like this (and while I use gendered terms here the system is becoming less so. tiffinwalla . is a person in the Indian city of Mumbai whose job is to carry and deliver freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. dabbawallas who use a complex system of symbols and homegrown business sense to move 200. largely illiterate. sometimes spelled dabbawalla . tiffinwalla or dabbawallah. And while it s amazing to watch these men scurry about doing their job. Almost all of these men hail from a small village a couple of hours outside of Mumbai and because of the small town nature of things. and sometimes for the box it is carried in. Man leaves in the morning to go to work at six to accommodate for the two hour commuter train to work. Tiffin is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch. The system is near flawless (one research paper put it as one screw up in 16 million successful deliveries) and has been going for over a century. . Indian businessmen are the main customers for the dabbawalas. in Mumbai it is the norm to have a fresh home cooked meal every day.000 lunches each day. it is actually a highly specialized trade that is over a century old and which has become integral to Mumbai's culture. Dabbawalas are sometimes called tiffinwallas. almost all are somehow related. what I was interested in is how this amazingly Indian concept has held on as long as it has. He wants lunch. The dabbawalla are an entire caste of people whose job is to transport home cooked lunches to their locations at peoples places of work. so his wife would have to get up at four to cook it and send it with him.

The containers are placed in a single file in a wooden crate with the lids of the entire lot visible. perishable goods and hold no value to thieves. and unloading and they don t need any technology or qualified personnel to operate. six decimals or more than that. and puts it back in the lot after lunch.e. They have got the prestigious achievement of SIX SIGMA RATING because of their percentage of correctness which is just perfect up to 99.SIX SIGMA RATING The six sigma rating means they have a 99.999995 i. Also. In addition. the contents of this consignment are unique in that they are low-cost. loading. The external container that houses the lunch box inside is of standard shape & size. each person handles a limited number of transactions at a time. although they use two to three modes of transportation. This shortens the address and error opportunities. the dabbawalas never lose custody of the wooden crate throughout the delivery process. coupled with an equally simple design. Although the number of transactions per day is large. the dabbawalas typically do not deliver to the exact office of the client. Repetitive/predictable transactions with high visual content get mastered by human minds rather easily. The only processes involved are sorting. they deliver it to the floor or the wing of the building and the client identifies his dabba from the lot based on his personal markings on the container. Instead. except an odd addition/deletion of containers and maybe a few persons. This is simply incredibel! . The number of variables (effective defect opportunities) is kept to a minimum.99% efficiency in delivering the lunch boxes to the right people. In addition. In six sigma lies in the extreme certainty and predictability of the operation. Not many of the topmost companies are even near to it. Practically nothing changes for months in the entire course of operation.

the Dabbawalas discussed their problems and explored possible solutions. fan out to loading points. At these meetings. ¤ They also adjudicated disputes among Dabbawalas using their own system. more sorting and loading on to handcarts. ¤ The Governing Council held meetings once a month which were attended by the Mukadams and Dabbawalas. bicycles and persons Deliveries Process moves into reverse Empty tiffins returned to homes .PROCESS IMPROVEMENT ¤ MTBSA is also the uncontested institution that regulates activities of all the dabbawalas and solves possible conflicts between them or with customers or authorities. sort boxes at intermediary stations according to delivery area (single tiffin can change hands three to four times) Arrive Bombay. ¤ It also has the authority to fire bad dabbawalas or give fines to those who commit errors repeatedly.30pm1pm 2pm 6pm Tiffins collected from homes Board trains. Operations management 7am-9am 9am-11am 11am12pm 12.

they have a very efficient management of the above core requirements. which involves collection of the tiffins from the offices and delivering it back to the place from where they had collected it (Customer Source). Wherein they have a policy that an employee cannot move out without getting a replacement. They divide the human resource available with them as per the workload. and placed on the train. They segregate the source for the collection as per the area and location so that it is easier for the assigned worker to collect them in the least time and then they get the tiffins to the warehouses. they are accumulated in the second warehouse (the destination station) where the same process is used to segregate the boxes as per the destination station wherein the same codes used in the boxes are used. which is the same for every worker (around 35 tiffins) and the number of employees increase with the increase in the work. which stand to be the source stations for their operation where they are well accumulated and managed. dabbawallas grab their buckets and get them to the office workers (Customer Destination) who ordered them. which represents all the information right from the source to delivery address. where they are bucketed-marked by destination. In case of dabbawallas. This gives an excellent model for the management of warehouse and inventory. When they reach their destination. All the tiffins are well marked in a typical manner. What Modern Businesses Can Learn From Dabbawallas SCM Practices 1) Distribution Network Configuration: This is a basic requirement of SCM and determines the success of the entire supply model. the dabbawallas start the reverse (collection) process. dabba-gatherers pick up the lunches from various households (Customer Source) which are then transported via bicycle to railway stations. This prevents hampering of the flow of work. and the warehouse it needs to be assigned to for delivery (the stations). suppliers. There again. After a few hours from delivery.load. warehouses and human resource management. . The core components being number.DABBAWALLA S SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT The Supply Chain Of Dabbawallas In the dabbawalla s supply chain system.

what is more important is having a proper distribution network 2) Distribution Strategy: This is again a vital part in supply chain and in case of dabbawalla s they have a very effective strategy. you need not blindly splurge money into the same. Thus. this is so well managed that even though the system may have error in allocation but their expertise never lets a single mistake happen. which has the minimum cost for the transport that can be availed also with the minimum time consumption so here also there is effective saving. After all. without any technology entities in their supply chain the dabbawallas have managed a Six Sigma level. While effective use of IT is important. the dabbawallas provide an important lesson to businesses that it is not necessary to have a high end IT system or technical tracking of inventory to build an effective supply chain. The transport is for longer distances between the source and the destination. . are used in delivery. which do not have any investments. it can be seen that at every step in the supply chain. Thus. The arrangement is in such a manner that all the workers are comfortably equipped so as to ensure timely delivery which they promise ( three hours). The entire system used by them is manmade and with no further investment as they generally use wooden racks for the entire transport. Hence. which is generally covered in local trains. dabbawallas use the most efficient and effective means of transportation. they use a bigger carrier with multiple workers to transfer them. So just because your competitor is investing millions into building an IT system to improve their supply chain. In some regions where the number is more than usual.This shows the level of management and coding that they employ without any use of external technocratic systems. Thus effective management of means of transport and carriage is a major differentiator for any business and would help in obtaining better profits viz a viz competition. Bicycles and wooden carts. which needs to be learnt . In today s world of IT. This is done in such a way that operation costs are kept to a minimum and at the same time the delivery time is not compromised upon. the distribution costs are saved. They have a well-managed segregation system where the boxes are segregated in the destination station as per the location of delivery and then assigned to the particular delivery people.

deal on a daily moving product where the product has a smaller life cycle (food product) hence their inventory management is diverted to time management.Tradeoffs in logistic activities : The dabbawallas use large wooden specially designed carriage which can accumulate around 80-100 tiffins during transport which saves the extra spacing during transport and also the charges for transport as they are generally carried in the luggage van of the train. This gives them scope for development if required and helps to manage their transport inventory as required. The carriage sizes then may vary in the source and destination stations during collection and distribution activities. this reduces the human resource requirement for the transfer. 5) Inventory Management: As the dabbawallas. This complete track of information system helps them maintain the entire process efficiently. 4) Information Flow: Proper flow of information amongst all the stakeholders in the supply chain is very vital for an effective supply chain. Wherein with their . The dabbawallas have meetings every month to keep a close loop of the information system within the organisation. And also.

A simple colour code determines not only the destination of the packet but also packet prioritizing as lunch is transferred from train to bicycle to foot.30 pm and 1.00 pm. no alcohol consumption during work hours. Dabbawallas have a set of rules such as reporting on time. Any additional expenses like the bonus for employees are derived from the customers so there is a very efficient management of funds within the supply chain. 7) Discipline: The dabbawallas emphasise a great deal on discipline among its work force during work hours. They are well aware that their job is a fight against time. they must wear their white caps. They have . carry their identification cards. Each one of them is committed to make the dabba reach to its end customer between 12. etc. 6) Cash Flow: Dabbawallas generally have a monthly system of collection of payments from their customers hence it is well managed and the charge is so nominal that even customers willingly pay for the effective service. manage the inventory in the entire process to stand to the time committed to their customers. As the process adapted by them requires the least daily cash requirement so the management is quite easy and effective. Fig 3 : Description of the coding techniques used for inventory management and distribution.proper tracking of inventory and effective segregation using colour codes generated for each box they efficiently.

Organisations should focus on being customer centric and layout a clear set of rules that workers must adhere to. organisations should ensure that their employees are committed towards customer satisfaction in order to drive the efficiency of their supply chain. To set a framework for discipline among the workers who ultimately manage the Supply Chain of your organisation is of utmost important. . Non-adherence to the discipline framework attracts monetary penalties. at the same time discipline cannot be maintained only by force. in order to build an effective supply chain system. However.also been disciplined to have their own lunch only after they provide the lunch to their customer.

Also wear white sadara & pyjama (shirts & pants). So due to such Flat kind of organization structure decisions are taken on the spot. Even the president & other higher categories members also work. It is democratic type of organization HR Practices. General Secretary. belief & ethics to run business effectively. Values & Ethics: All the Dabbawalas are from poor background. of Directors formed 13 members of board under which Mukadam & other Dabbawalas work. All these rules are binding on all cadres of the Dabbawala. · Following Of Strict Dress Codes: All Dabbawalas must wear white cap which is called as Gandhian cap on duty. · Loyalty & Trust Is Their Monopoly: All Dabbawalas are layal & hard working in nature. · Sharing Common Beliefs. Treasurer & 9 no. · No Hire & Fire Rule: Everyone is shareholder of the association.HR PRACTICES : · Flat Organization: The president. They follow their norms & promise which they made their customers. Vice president. When they feel that new employees are capable to work. the aim of the organization is mutual benefit to all members so they follow certain values. · Community Based Recritment: Those who have capacity to job they can apply for the Dabbawala post. There is no any kind of basis happens related to recruitment process. · Training Provided To New Employees: After recruitment they provide complete process training to new joiner under the observation of Mukadam or any senior member. that time training will completed. Whatever profits they can equally distributed within itself. All Dabbawals must carry their Identity card on duty. .

All Dabbwalas can participate in meeting & can contribute his suggestion. All disciplinary rules & other ethics follow by all members. salary & future goal. · Quarterly Meeting To Discuss Issues: Every quarter all Dabbawalas meet & discuss issues related to service. If any critical issue arises that time they call immediate meeting. All are owners of the business. So there is no any employee & employer relationship between each other. Also conduct daily meeting to handle day to day problem. .· Owner + Employee Is The Designation Of All: Everyone is the shareholder of the Association. They discuss balance sheet & distrbute profits among them.

per dabba. Cost of service -Rs. Zero % fuel Zero % investment Zero % modern technology . 300/month Earnings .000 transactions per day for a cost of Rs. Diwali bonus: one month s from customers.300 per month.5000 to 6000 p.000 dabbawalas make about 400.FINANCIALS 5.m.

2010  Ebsco.Case study on Mumbai Dabbawalas. Mona Sinha Source: Harvard Business School Publication date: Feb 08.THE CULT OF DABBBAWALA Section: Business .An entrepreneurial success story  The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery. Every Time by Stefan Thomke.SOURCES:  Case Folio July 2004 edition.