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1 The Wonder of Mumbai Dabbawallas Inspiration of Management supported by h ttp:// ttp://

2 Introduction 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]EtymologyIndian Mumbailunch boxesoffice workersTiffinsupply chain Six Sigma[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.British rulecustomers

3 (Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association) History : Started in 1880 Charitable trust : Registered in 1956 Avg. Literacy Rate : 8 th 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 What is NMTBSA?

4 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.

5 DABBAWALLAS IN TRAIN COMPARTMENT The word "Dabbawala" can be translated as "box-carrier" or "lunchpail- man". In Marathi and Hindi, "dabba" means a box (usually a cylindrical aluminium container), while "wala" means someone in a trade involving the object mentioned in the preceding term, e.g. punkhawala with "pankha" which means a fan and "wala" mean the person who owns the pankha (The one with the fan).MarathiHindipunkhawala with "pankha" which means a fan and "wala" mean the person who owns the pankha

6 APPROACH 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”

7 How do they do it…? Organizational structure Executive Committee (5 members) Teams of 20-25 headed by a group leader Individual Dabbawalla workload = 30 tiffins Operations War against Time (10.30 – 1.00) The Code Case Study : TBSA Tiffin Box Suppliers Association

8 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE The service is uninterrupted even on the days of extreme weather, such as Mumbai's characteristic monsoons. The local dabbawalas at the receiving and the sending ends are known to the customers personally, so that there is no question of lack of trust. Also, they are well accustomed to the local areas they cater to, which allows them to access any destination with ease. Occasionally, people communicate between home and work by putting messages inside the boxes. However, this was usually before the accessibility of telecommunicationsextreme weathermonsoons telecommunications



11 FINANCIAL DATA OF A GROUP 1 st group – Rs 125000 Total earnings -20 People Rs 35000 Maintenance cost Tiffin luggage basket pass – Rs 180 per person. Maintenance of cycles – Rs 300 – 2 cycles per month. Maintenance of wooden boxes – Rs 100 per person. T.C, police robbery of Tiffin Rs 500 yearly. Organizational fee Rs 15 per head. Puja held per station Rs 50 per head.

12 Awards and Felicitation  Shri.Varkari Prabhodhan Mahasmati Dindi (palkhi) sohala – 4 th march – 2001.  Invitation from CII for conference held in Bangalore.  Documentaries made by BBC,UTV, MTV, and ZEE TV  Dabbawalla services are popular with the Indian IT developer community in Silicon Valley, California, USAITSilicon ValleyCaliforniaUSA  In literature One of the two protagonists in Salman Rushdie's controversial novel The Satanic Verses, Gibreel Farishta, was born as Ismail Najmuddin to a dabbawallah. In the novel, Farishta joins his father, delivering lunches all over Bombay (Mumbai) at the age of 10, until he is taken off the streets and becomes a movie star.Salman RushdieThe Satanic Verses Dabbawalas feature as an alibi in the Inspector Ghote novel Dead on Time.Inspector Ghote

13 Some Achievements World record in best time management. Name in “GUINESS BOOK of World Records”. Registered with Ripley's “ believe it or not”.

14 LOGISTICS 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

15 Coding VLP : Vile Parle (Suburb in Mumbai) 9E12 : Code for Dabbawallas at Destination E : Express Towers (Bldg. Name) 12 : Floor No. E : Code for Dabbawallas at Residential station. 3 : Code for Destination station (E.g.. Nariman Point)

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


18 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.

19 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

20 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!

21 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.

22 RETURN JOURNEY: 2:00 – 2:30 pm The group members meet for the segregation as per the destination suburb.

23 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.

24 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

25 THE ROYAL VISIT: 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.

26 RICHARD BRANSON CHAIRMAN VIRGIN ATLANTIC AIRWAYS MUMBAI 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.

27 Order Dabbawalas Products and services Online developing a software application through which the people of Mumbai can order Dabba service online through internet. The order will be booked online and Dabba will be picked up from your home and will be delivered to office in time. Please wait, the software will be soon available. Meanwhile you may send us E-Mail us at Sales@MyDabbawala.Com with your details ( name, home address, office address, home phone, office phone, mobile number, whether you want dabba on Saturday) and He will contact you to start the service. Sales@MyDabbawala.Com

28 Order through SMS 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,, 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.ComSMS Sales@MyDabbawala.Com

29 THANK YOU Presentation : Paavan Solanki

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