Newsletter | Volume 1

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Low tech but high touch management Philosophy on sustainable supply chain.

This is absolutely an unique supply chain management system, developed by the uneducated and illiterate Mumbai Dabbawalas and it has been recognized by the Forbes business magazine as a six-sigma system!

The Dabbawalas have provided a lunch delivery service in Mumbai for over 100 years. They are masters in sustainable supply chain management. If you need a low tech but high touch study on logistics, change and supply chain management, the Dabbawalas of Mumbai also provides the right answer. The talk has practical relevance to industrialists, businessmen, professional managers, traders, manufacturing professionals all over the world.

At the 2nd Asian HRC Summit in Mumbai Dr Pawan Girdharilal Agrawal, delivered an enthusiastic and hands-on show-and-tell-talk on how the Dabbawalas operate. He conducted a case study in logistics, supply chain, HR and change management. Tirelessly he described their remarkable delivery process, coding system and how they work as one team to achieve a common goal.

Entrepreneurial Success Story
The system runs smoothly, often even in times of extreme stress like the monsoon, traffic jams, and overly crowded trains. In 1998, Forbes Global magazine conducted an analysis and gave them a Six Sigma rating of efficiency. In spite of their 100+ year existence, the case study also explored the service provided by the Dabbawalas in the light of the changing environment of Mumbai. The city has grown by leaps and bounds, and so has the Dabbawala. They can teach us a thing or two on how to conduct business without any paper or administrative back-up to keep the costs down.

The price of transporting each tiffin is affordable to all. To keep the delivery logistics simple, standard and uniform, the price of the 400,000 daily transactions is the same to all customers (usd 8 per month to transport a home cooked warm lunch). The standard price applies regardless of the distance, size or weight of the tiffin box. The error rate is as low as 1 in 16 million transactions and the time taken for the entire transaction is approximately 3 hours. There are 800 team leaders (first amongst equals), and there has never been a single strike as all 5000 employees are shareholders.

Corporate Social Responsibility
Agrawal has been working tirelessly to increase the profile of this integral Mumbai network ever since he began to work on his doctoral dissertation -A study of logistics and supply chain management of Dabbawala in Mumbai. Agrawal is now working on his new doctoral dissertation - Emergence and importance of newspaper distribution in Mumbai.

The money from the lectures and from the tokens that are sold at conferences in Dr. Agrawal's lectures provides education to Dabbawalas and deprived children, absolutely free. Dr. Agrawal has also received several awards as a teacher. He is also president of Indian Teachers' Council, dedicated to Teachers Welfare and Development.