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We are Dabbawala, (one who carries the box), in the

Indian city of Mumbai. We carry and deliver freshly
made food from customers home in a lunch box
(Dabba) and deliver it to offices.
It may sound simple, but its not.
It is actually a highly specialized trade that has
evolved in its current form over a century and has
become integral to Mumbais culture.
We are about 5000 in number and deliver
approximately 200,000 tiffin boxes every day.

It all started about 125 years back when a Parasi
banker wanted to have home cooked food regularly in
office and gave this responsibility to the first ever
Dabbawala. Other people also liked the idea and the
demand for Dabba delivery soared.
It was all informal and individual effort in the
beginning, but visionary Mahadeo Havaji Bachche saw
the opportunity and started the lunch delivery service
in its present team-delivery format with 100
As the city grew, the demand for dabba delivery grew
too. Our forefathers had the vision to create the
Dabba coding system thats going on strong even
The Coding system evolved through various stages
with time. In the beginning it was simple colour
coding. Now Mumbai is a widely spread metro with 3

local train routes. Our coding has also evolved into

alpha numeric characters.

We are mostly semi literate people of Warkari sect
from rural Maharashtra. We feel a sense of pride that
our work and dedication is appreciated world over.
Eminent personalities like Prince Charles have visited
us. Prince even invited us to his wedding.
If you ask us who is the most famous Dabbawala in the
world? We will say Mr Richard Branson! He actually
travelled with us like a Dabbawala and delivered a
huge tiffin to his own employees at Virgin, Mumbai.
We are recognised as delivering 6 sigma level of
accuracy in our dabba delivery. That means only 1
mistake in 6 million chances.
There are innumerable documentaries made on our
Dabba delivery system.
We have been featured in many news programmes; we
are mentioned in literature as well. University
delegates from all around the world keep visiting us.
Supply chain management[edit]

A collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects

dabbas either from a worker's home or from the dabba
makers. As many of the carriers are of limited literacy
(the average literacy of Dabbawallahs is that of 8th
grade[4]), the dabbas (boxes) have some sort of

distinguishing mark on them, such as a colour or

group of symbols.
The dabbawala then takes them to a sorting place,
where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort the
lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in
the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the
destination of the box (usually there is a designated
car for the boxes). The markings include the railway
station to unload the boxes and the destination
building delivery address.
At each station, boxes are handed over to a local
dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes are
collected after lunch or the next day and sent back to
the respective houses. The dabbawalas also allow for
delivery requests through SMS.
Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process
improvement. It was introduced by engineer Bill Smith
while working at Motorola in 1986.[1][2] Jack
Welch made it central to his business strategy
at General Electric in 1995.[3] Today, it is used in many
industrial sectors.[4]
Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of the output
of a process by identifying and removing the causes of
defects and
minimizing variabilityin manufacturing and business
processes. It uses a set of quality
management methods, mainly empirical, statistical
methods, and creates a special infrastructure of
people within the organization, who are experts in

these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out

within an organization follows a defined sequence of
steps and has specific value targets, for example:
reduce process cycle time, reduce pollution, reduce
costs, increase customer satisfaction, and increase
The term Six Sigma (capitalized because it was written
that way when registered as a Motorola trademark on
December 28, 1993) originated from terminology
associated with statistical modeling of
manufacturing processes. The maturity of a
manufacturing process can be described by
a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of
defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is
one in which 99.99966% of all opportunities to
produce some feature of a part are statistically
expected to be free of defects (3.4 defective features
per million opportunities). Motorola set a goal of "six
sigma" for all of its manufacturing operations, and this
goal became a by-word for the management and
engineering practices used to achieve it.