Free Essay


In: Business and Management

Submitted By ioda121
Words 775
Pages 4
Delivering The Goods : Forbes rates the lunch-box carriers of Mumbai on a par with Motorola

FOOD EXPRESS: The dabbawallahs ferry 1.5 lakh lunches daily with the help of simple codes.

It was an unusual story by Forbes Global, A marked departure from its sought-after macro-economic reviews and corporate analyses. The US-based business magazine recently zeroed in on Mumbai's dabbawallah.The lunch> logisticians who deliver 1.5 lakh lunch boxes to hungry office goers every day have in the past found mention in the Indian press, but the Forbes story was the first time an international organization had analyzed them scientifically and rated them as if they comprised a corporate body. And the conclusions were more than flattering.

The dabbawallahs scored a 6 Sigma performance rating, a term used in quality assurance if the percentage of correctness is 99.999999 or more. In simple words, this means one error in six million transactions,a benchmark reserved for blue-chip companies like Motorola. For the humble dabbawallah, it was a treasured feather in his Gandhi cap. But the ground realities for him will not change.

His story begins every sultry Mumbai morning at 9 a.m. sharp. The doorbell rings at the Bhalekar residence in Dahisar, a far-flung suburb, in a ritual that is being played out simultaneously in thousands of Mumbai homes. Vrinda Bhalekar hands over an aluminum container with piping hot lunch for her husband to a middle-aged man wearing the regulation white cap.In an hour's time, the man will have collected 30 such dabbas (lunch boxes) to pass on to a waiting colleague at the local railway station.

It's not easy covering so many houses quickly in a city like Mumbai. The heat and the crawling peak-hour traffic make reaching a home a task in itself. At each stop the dabbawallah has to park his cycle at the gate, go to the client's flat which invariably means an elevator ride up a high-rise, collect the lunch and then come down again. But it is a part of the daily grind. Just as it is for his colleague who sweats it out in the crowded local train to reach, say, south Mumbai's Churchgate terminus by 11.30 a.m. There groups of team members effortlessly sort out the tiffin's-thousands of them in less than 10 minutes-while others pack their carts with the boxes and dash off to the office districts.

By noon, Bhalekar and thousands like him have warm food in front of them. The entire process is reversed after the meal and Bhalekar's dabba reaches home well before he does. Behind this reliable-as-clockwork system is a relay of 4,500 hardworking dabbawallahs and a simple but effective coding system. The residential address, office address, railway stations of delivery and pick up are all crunched into a small series of letters and numbers,hand-painted on each client's tiffin. For instance, Bhalekar's lunch would carry the coding 3MC4, 3 for the carrier who delivers in Nariman Point, MC for his office in Mafatlal Centre and 4 for the floor his office is located on.

In another code below it, 10 is the number for the Churchgate station where the tiffin is offloaded and D for Dahisar station where it was collected. So advanced, and so loved by the people, is the service that you can order it from online grocery store Despite such facilities and efficiency-a level which Forbes noted "western businesses can only aspire to"-the service comes at an amazingly cheap fee of Rs 150 a month, the price determined somewhat by the recession in the business. From its peak days in 1955 with deliveries of over two lakh tiffins per day, the century-old trade received its first blow when bank employees began leaving home early with the change in office timings in the late 1960s. The rapid closure of mills in the 1980s-'90s also robbed the dabbawallah of his largest clientele, the mill workers. Now, canteens and food courts in the office districts have taken their toll.

The money collected by the dabbawallah goes into the cooperative pool that he belongs to. Out of the accumulated fund, he is paid a monthly salary of Rs 3,000 or so. But no one is complaining. Raghunath Medge, president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin box Suppliers' Charity Trust, is undeterred. To him,all that matters is his ability to deliver. "We make a mistake perhaps once in two months. Our livelihood depends on delivering efficiently" he says. Competition for Federal Express?…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Case Question on Dabawala of Mumbai

...Case Study on Dabbawallah of Mumbai Submitted by : RIL -MDP Taruna Upadhyaya Pankaj Nimavat Siddhartha Chaturvedi Assignment Questions for the case: 1. What is the basis for the success of the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai? What factors need to be in place for a service like the Dabbawallahs to work effectively? Basis for the success of the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai is that they were all working for a single purpose of delivering a dabba in time for the customer’s lunch. Several distinctive and supporting success factors include: Dabbawallah Profile. • All the dabbawallah were from the same geographical area and spoke the same language. This gave a kind of cultural profile to the Trust and high degree of cohesion amongst each other. • High disciplined staff to ensure timely delivery. No strikes reported so far. • Each dabbawallah considered themselves as entrepreneur and not employee which led to the high level of ownership and cohesive environment to work in. Decentralization • Each group was responsible for the smooth functioning of the day to day activities entirely independent of the trust. • There were no centralized records of incomes and expenses for group clients, dabbawallah or Mukadams. • Decentralization had been instrumental to building cohesion within each group, and operational autonomy helped to provide focus on delivery effectiveness and improvement. Perceived Equality • Each Dabbawallahs in the group earned equal remuneration; irrespective of......

Words: 1881 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

Mumbai Dabbawallah

...students from other management institudes. To gain more information I also watched a few lectures by Professor Pramod Agarwal (PHD on Supply chain management) and other documentaries such as “….” By BBC. Declaration I declare that this report is the result of my own individual efforts and that it conforms to university, departmental and course regulations regarding cheating and plagiarism. No material contained within report has been used in any other submission, by the author, for an academic award. Acknowledgement I would like to thank Chef Shankar Jha for helping me frame the research question for my report and would also like to thank him for his support and assistance in making this report. Introduction “Mumbai Dabbawallah” the word generally used to describe the services of Nutan Mumabai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust (MNTBST). The word ‘Dabba’ in Hindi meaning a box usually a tiffin and ‘walla’ in Hindi is the doer, therefore Dabbawalla in general means ‘a person who carries a box’. The Dabbawala are an entire caste of people whose job is to transport home cooked lunches to their locations at peoples’ places of work. There are 5000, largely illiterate, Dabbawala who use a complex system of symbols and home-grown business sense to move 260,000 lunches each day. 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. Almost all of these men hail from a small......

Words: 4155 - Pages: 17

Premium Essay

Mumbai Dabbawala

...impact a major positive change the lunch delivery system. The system runs efficiently & is in prestigious position with achievement of SIX SIGMA RATING. Dabbawalas fascinating. For instance the Berkeley University in California teaches the logistic system of Dabbawalas as a case study in one of their business management programs and many Indian business schools and industry associations have the Dabbawala logistics system in their case-study agenda. In 1998 two Dutch filmmakers, Jascha De Wilde and Chris Relleke, made a documentary called "Dabbawalas, Mumbai's unique lunch service" and in 2001, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston-based newspaper, covered the Dabbawalas in an article called "Fastest Food: It's Big Mac vs. Bombay's Dabbawallahs." The British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have done features on the delivery system as well, while Prince Charles was so impressed with their service that he had even invited a few Dabbawalas to his marriage with Camilla Parker in London. Yet these Dabbawalas have remained poor. "Nowhere in the world would you find a lunch delivery service that costs as little as $9 a month," says Talekar. The charges for this complex delivery system have remained dirt-cheap ever since its inception, and still the maximum rate that a Dabbawala charges (depending on the distance carried) is about $11 a month. Which is why technology is needed to improve their lives, says Tripathy. "No doubt a major driver......

Words: 14614 - Pages: 59

Premium Essay


...Institute of Management - Kozhikode, 2015 S w 904D11 DABBAWALLAHS OF MUMBAI (A) Chandra Sekhar Ramasastry prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Larry Menor solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. Ivey Management Services prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmittal without its written permission. This material is not covered under authorization from CanCopy or any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey Management Services, c/o Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail Copyright © 2004, Ivey Management Services Version: (A) 2004-04-26 INTRODUCTION On November 7, 2003, Raghunath Medge, president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust (the Trust), had just returned to his office in suburban Mumbai after meeting with Britain’s Prince Charles who was on an official visit to India’s commercial capital. The Trust was the managing organization of the dabbawallah meal delivery network (see Exhibit 1). The dabbawallahs’ service, often referred to as tiffinwallahs outside of......

Words: 7423 - Pages: 30

Premium Essay

Macdonald in India

...trying to expand its franchise to India and compete with the local food dealers “Dabbawallahs”. The issue that exists, is that many of the products from a regular McDonald’s menu (Europe/North America) cannot be eaten by Indians, because sacred animal products can be considered offensive to their beliefs and religion. As well, most Indians prefer homemade meals, and express delivery from the Dabbawallahs. Dabbawallahs have fed Indian workforce for a long time, for just a small amount of money. Mcdonald's is competing with the Dabbawallahs pinpoint accuracy and delivery. Analysis Mcdonald’s has 80 restaurants in Mumbai. Assuming Mcdonald’s spread out their restaurants similarly to how they do in North America (based on population density), they are closer to the workplaces than some of the residencies in North Mumbai. Despite this, workers would rather eat home cooked meals, because they are under the impression cafeteria food is not healthy. Mcdonald’s has catered their menu to meet the needs of different religions, but more could be done to match the food Indian people regularly eat. The care needed to offer religion-friendly meals has already been taken by Mcdonald’s, by separating its food preparation inside restaurants, and distribution centres. The upstream food sourcing is all localized, to keep logistics cost low, and ensure food avoids cross contamination. Currently, Dabbawallahs offer accurate, and convenient delivery service. Indian workers see value in not...

Words: 1190 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Analysis of Mumbai Dabawallahs

...Medge’s confidence in the survival of the Dabbawallah is not misplaced, and several important factors will facilitate the stability and growth of the Dabbawallah for years to come. First, using Porter’s Five Forces analysis, the overall profitability and attractiveness of the market that the Dabbawallahs operate in may be determined. Competition-wise, the services which the Dabbawallahs offer (on-time lunch delivery from home) is not replicated or found elsewhere. In this regard, the Dabbawallahs have a virtual monopoly of sort. Also, although the Dabbawallahs would not be likely to face the threat of new entrants with a service similar to theirs, there are perceived threats from other sources, such as fast-food chains, roadside vendors, canteens, and “ticket restaurants.” However, since these are restaurants and does not serve home-cooked food, the Dabbawallahs’ core offering remains unchallenged. The Bargaining power of sellers is not applicable in this case since the Dabbawallahs are not dependent on suppliers or sellers. The bargaining power of buyers is minimal since the monthly charge for the service is already quite low at around 150 to 200 Rupees a month. Finally, there are no substitutes to the food delivery service, at least for the foreseeable future. Costs would be too high and prohibiting for smaller courier firms, known as angadias in Mumbai, since most of them are small mom-and-pop style businesses, and larger courier services such as DHL and FedEx......

Words: 595 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

International Environment

...customers (consumer); and it is the science of process having its presence in all sectors of the industry. The goal of logistics work is to manage the fruition of project life cycles, supply chains and resultant efficiencies. Logistics is concerned with getting (or transmitting) the products and services where they are needed or when they are desired. It is difficult to accomplish any marketing or manufacturing without logistical support. It involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging. The operating responsibility of logistics is the geographical repositioning of raw materials, work in process, and finished inventories where required at the lowest cost possible. The DABBAWALLAHs of MUMBAI :- The “Dabbawallah’s” or the ‘lunch box delivery people’ of Mumbai pickup and deliver lunch boxes from homes or restaurants and deliver it to the customer’s office – all within a specified time frame – and then deliver the empty box back to the place of pickup. The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Charity Trust of Mumbai was established in 1891 to provide pick-up and delivery of lunch for Britishers working in Mumbai. It picks-up and delivers 200,000 lunch boxes in a standard container every day and returns the same to the place of pickup. We discuss, briefly, the processes that help make this logistics network error proof and deliver such an astonishing......

Words: 865 - Pages: 4