Dabbawala (one who carries the box, see Etymology), sometimes spelled dabbawalla or dabbawallah


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A dabbawala (one who carries the box, see Etymology), sometimes spelled dabbawalla or dabbawallah, 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. Tiffin is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch, and sometimes for the box it is carried in. Dabbawalas are sometimes called tiffin-wallas. For the efficiency of their supply chain it has been claimed that this virtually achieves a Six Sigma performance rating, (i.e. 99.9999% of deliveries are made without error, he is at CMMi level 6).[1]

  • A dabbawala (one who carries the box, see Etymology), sometimes spelled dabbawalla or dabbawallah, 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. Tiffin is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch, and sometimes for the box it is carried in. Dabbawalas are sometimes called tiffin-wallas. For the efficiency of their supply chain it has been claimed that this virtually achieves a Six Sigma performance rating, (i.e. 99.9999% of deliveries are made without error, he is at CMMi level 6).[1]

  • Though the work sounds simple, it is actually a highly specialized trade that is over a century old and which has become integral to Mumbai's culture.

  • The dabbawala originated when India was under British rule: many Indian people who worked in British companies disliked the British food served by the companies, so a service was set up to bring lunch to them in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, Indian businessmen are the main customers for the dabbawalas, and the service often includes cooking as well as delivery.



(Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association)

  • (Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association)

  • History : Started in 1880

  • Charitable trust : Registered in 1956

  • Avg. Literacy Rate : 8th Grade Schooling

  • Total area coverage : 60 Kms

  • Employee Strength : 5000

  • Number of Tiffin's : 2,00,000 Tiffin Boxes

  • i.e 4,00,000 transactions every day.

  • Time taken : 3 hrs



  • Error Rate : 1 in 16 million transactions

  • Six Sigma performance (99.999999)

  • Technological Backup : Nil.

  • Cost of service - Rs. 200/month ($ 4.00/month)

  • Standard price for all (Weight, Distance, Space)

  • Rs. 50 Cr. Turnover approx.

  • [200,000*200=400,000,00 p.m. i.e 48 crore p.a.]

  • “No strike” record as each one a share holder

  • Earnings -5000 to 6000 p.m.





  • DISCIPLINE :

  • No Alcohol Drinking during business hours

  • Wearing White Cap during business hours

  • Carry Identity Cards

  • WOMEN:

  • Mrs. Bhikhubai of Borivali(East)

  • Mrs. Anandibai of Andheri(East)

  • LATEST MARKETING STRATEGY:

  • Marketing message in the “dabba”



How do they do it…?

  • How do they do it…?

  • Organizational structure













World record in best time management.

  • World record in best time management.

  • Name in “GUINESS BOOK of World Records”.

  • Registered with Ripley's “ believe it or not”.



Logistics is happening 24 hrs a day,7 days a week and 52 weeks a year.

  • Logistics is happening 24 hrs a day,7 days a week and 52 weeks a year.

  • Logistical competency is achieved by coordinating the following:

  • Network Design

  • Information

  • Transportation

  • Inventory

  • Warehousing



Coding

  • Coding



Let us now look at an example of these codes on the tiffins to better understand the system and what it all denotes:

  • Let us now look at an example of these codes on the tiffins to better understand the system and what it all denotes:





10:34-11:20 am

  • 10:34-11:20 am

  • This time period is actually the journey time. The dabbawalas load the wooden crates filled with tiffins onto the luggage or goods compartment in the train. Generally, they choose to occupy the last compartment of the train.



11:20 – 12:30 pm

  • 11:20 – 12:30 pm

  • At this stage, the unloading takes place at the destination station

  • Re-arrangement of tiffins takes place as per the destination area and destination building



  • In particular areas with high density of customers, a special crate is dedicated to the area. This crate carries 150 tiffins and is driven by 3-4 dabbawalas!



1:15 – 2:00 pm

  • 1:15 – 2:00 pm

  • Here on begins the collection process where the dabbawalas have to pick up the tiffins from the offices where they had delivered almost an hour ago.



2:00 – 2:30 pm

  • 2:00 – 2:30 pm

  • The group members meet for the segregation as per the destination suburb.



2:48 – 3:30 pm

  • 2:48 – 3:30 pm

  • The return journey by train where the group finally meets up after the day’s routine of dispatching and collecting from various destination offices

  • Usually, since it is more of a pleasant journey compared to the earlier part of the day, the dabbawalas lighten up the moment with merry making, joking around and singing.



3:30 – 4:00 pm

  • 3:30 – 4:00 pm

  • This is the stage where the final sorting and dispatch takes place. The group meets up at origin station and they finally sort out the tiffins as per the origin area



  • Recently, the dabbawala’s had royal company at Churchgate station. The Prince of Wales himself had visited them when he came down to Mumbai.

  • He took keen interest in their way of functioning, expressed surprise at their efficiency and was struck with awe when he was told that they didn’t employ any technology.

  • The prince was presented a small memento, accompanied with a garland, a Gandhi topi and a trophy by the dabbawalas.



  • Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Atlantic Airways, meeting the Mumbai's famed 'Dabbawalas' at their nodal point, the Churchgate Railway Station in South Mumbai, on April 1, 2005.





Although the service remains essentially low-tech, with the barefoot delivery boys as the prime movers, the dabbawalas have started to embrace technology, and now allow booking for delivery through SMS. A web site, mydabbawala.com, has also been added to allow for on-line booking, in order to keep up with the times. An on-line poll on the web site ensures that customer feedback is given pride of place. The success of the system depends on teamwork and time management that would be the envy of a modern manager. Such is the dedication and commitment of the barely literate and barefoot delivery boys (there are only a few delivery women) who form links in the extensive delivery chain, that there is no system of documentation at all. A simple colour coding system doubles as an ID system for the destination and recipient. There are no elaborate layers of management either — just three layers. Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the shape of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the tiffins, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi topi (cap). The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit. - Sales@MyDabbawala.Com

  • Although the service remains essentially low-tech, with the barefoot delivery boys as the prime movers, the dabbawalas have started to embrace technology, and now allow booking for delivery through SMS. A web site, mydabbawala.com, has also been added to allow for on-line booking, in order to keep up with the times. An on-line poll on the web site ensures that customer feedback is given pride of place. The success of the system depends on teamwork and time management that would be the envy of a modern manager. Such is the dedication and commitment of the barely literate and barefoot delivery boys (there are only a few delivery women) who form links in the extensive delivery chain, that there is no system of documentation at all. A simple colour coding system doubles as an ID system for the destination and recipient. There are no elaborate layers of management either — just three layers. Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the shape of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the tiffins, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi topi (cap). The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit. - Sales@MyDabbawala.Com






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