November 26, 2006

Six Sigma and the Delivery Boys

-- By Pushpa Sathish, Staff Writer

Delivery boys (or men) lecturing to business graduates at India’s premier management institution – believe it or not, it’s fact not fiction.

It’s an amazing success story, one that even Forbes Global picked up a few years ago. The term Six Sigma does not come to mind when one thinks of lunch boxes and their delivery – but one delivery service in India has managed to garner a Six Sigma rating on par with Motorola. The Mumbai Dabbawallahs, or members of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers’ Association, have earned fame with their “perhaps one mistake every two months” out of the 170,000 lunch boxes they deliver everyday across offices in Mumbai. With a complicated, yet simple, coding system for each box, the delivery men get hot, home-cooked food to office-goers at lunch time, and deliver the boxes back to their homes before they get there themselves after the day’s work.

The president and secretary of the dabbawallahs’ association will talk to the students of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, about the efficiency of their supply chain, at the school’s annual operations seminar, “Opus,” on the topic “India Inc. – From Sustenance to Operational Excellence.”

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