Logistic and Supply chain management

Introduction on analysis of logistic and supply chain management

Dabbawallahs are the well known figure in Mumbai nowadays. They are the "Tiffin suppliers" who deliver daily the food of thousands of employees and are needed a Speciality. The overall process of the Dabbawallahs can be determined as they collect lunch box from the resident of customers and deliver it at their workplace. It is the best way through which customers can have fresh food. They have started their process in 1890 and after this more and more people joined this group though the referral and nowadays it becomes very serious business (Balakrishnan and Teo, 2008). They have capitalized their business due to high demand and represent a classic example of using a base-of-the pyramid approach. The present research mainly emphasize on the logistic and supply chain management of the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai. They are famous for their supply chain, conventional Indian system of management and their distribution network structure and their team work. Accessing this approach is quite effective as they provide several benefits to low income workers. This study also helps in identifying the challenges faced by Dabbawallahs at the time of service delivery and management of products.

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Rationale of the study

The main purpose behind carrying out this research is to gain overall idea about the process followed by the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai. This is the story of a conventional Indian system of management that is nowadays is one of the most famous system among all the citizens worldwide. The main reason behind its popularity is that they don't use any technology and outperforms most organizations in operational efficiency. One of the main reasons behind using this service by lots of people is that they want to eat proper and home prepared meal during their lunch. It is the most effective and one of the most innovative organizations worldwide in supply chain management. They have become a symbolic of Mumbai culture and the Dabbawallahs themselves have structured their own business process. British Colonial rule has evolved into a brand that symbolizes the low cost innovation, teamwork and brilliancy in operational efficiency.  



To analyze the logistic and supply chain management of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai

Research Objectives

1.To assess the supply chain management of Dabbawallahs.
2.To assess the factors which influence the service delivery and supply chain management activities of the firm.
3.To identify the future growth of Dabbawallahs.

Research Questions

1.What are the main factors which influence the service delivery and supply chain management activities of the firm?
2.How supply chain management helps Dabbawallahs in delivering their services effectively?
3.What is the process of overall supply chain management of the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai?


Origin of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai  

A Dabbawallah is a person who mainly works to deliver fresh homemade food at various offices as well as houses. A person mainly belongs to Mumbai and he has started this system by addressing problems of people. Most of the workers and office goers prefer to eat home cooked food. Nowadays people are very diet conscious and they prefer to eat homemade food. In the year of 1890, a Parsi banker working in ballard pier employed a young man from Pune district. He brings his lunch every day in the office hours. This is quite effective work and more and more people joined this group as they get most suitable facility. Soon it was taken a serious business and they have been started hiring more and more people from their village (Bondre, 2013). They are formally known as MTBSA (Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association).  In today's time, 5000 Dabbawallahs across Mumbai coordinate with each other for picking up and delivering the Tiffin's across 2 lakh people of Mumbai. They have achieved higher success as they achieves a high level of efficiency and performance without any documentation. They mainly work on the 'work is worship' philosophy. It is the traditional Indian philosophy and local trains are known as the backbone of their system. Dabbawallahs are the food line and they have covered a broad range of area through which they can provide fresh food to all their customers. According to (Denscombe, 2002) each Dabbawallah is a businessman himself. They mainly operate in a group of 20-25 members in which each carry out the 30-35 Tiffin boxes. With this British Colonial this process has been started and they have set up their supply chain management process. By following this process they have been achieved higher success.  

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Supply chain management of Dabbawallahs

A supply chain management is one of the most important parts of any organization.  Dabbawallahs of Mumbai is widely recognized for their excellence of supply chain management. Gregory, 2003 stated that Dabbawallah mainly collects dabbas either from a worker's home or from the dabba makers. They have decided to bring a designated sorting place where other collecting Dabbawallah sort the lunch boxes into groups. In order to identify the destination of box a marking has been done by the person. After this a grouped boxes are put in the coaches of train and then unload these boxes at the destination building delivery system. In this overall process the boxes are handed over to the local Dabbawallah and he is the only person who is responsible for the deliver them at the offices as well as homes. Throughout this process after the lunch time the empty boxes are collected and send back to the respective houses so that it can be prepared for the next day. In their whole process it has been identified that there is no use of information system or any of the technology for their supply chain. There are about to 40000 transactions of lunch boxes taking place daily. Kothari, 2004 stated that they have gained a huge popularity in the short span of time and it is one of the most important reason behind its success. It is very crucial that every Dabbawallahs have to assemble and report at the fix time. The most important benefit of getting more success is their increasing customer relationship. By increasing customer relationship and gaining trust among them they can easily expand their business in various other cities (Lewis, Pun and Lalla, 2004).  

In today's globalized world achieving the success with this local market business is very difficult for them to maintain the service quality of their business. More than 5000 people working with them and deliver about 2 lakh people at their workplace. One of the most important reasons behind their success factor is the busy schedule of people and them wants to eat fresh food. According to (Lodico, Spaulding, and Voegtle, 2010) the whole process of the supply chain of Dabbawallahs is all about picking up the dabba from residence and bring it to the station and deliver it to the workstation of the customer and collect all the empty dabbas and return them to the customer houses. The whole process needs to follow by all the Dabbawallahs and they essentially manage themselves and help each other in operating all their business operations efficiently and the quality of service high (Patel and Vedula, 2006). This entire network system ends with the delivery of the Tiffin back to the customer's origin point at the precise time every day. All their customers are satisfied with the timely delivery of home food and the dabba back to the origin. In this overall process each Tiffin containing the food has a number of cods which has been identified as:

  1. The code allocated to each Dabbawallah in a group that picks up the Tiffin from particular area.  
  2. The code of origin station is also fixed
  3. The code for destination which is any other commercial line (Dabbawala's unique supply chain model, 2014)
  4. The code for the Dabbawallah for the destination where they wants to deliver the dabba
  5. Code for the office building and destination area
  6. Code for the floor or the room in that building  

This overall process is added into the supply chain management process of the Dabbawallah. Different groups have different color code written on the top of the dabba. With the help of this all Dabbawallahs can note out that Tiffin belonging to a group remains distinct. In addition this, it can be easily stated that the overall supply chain management process is the very crucial for company in achieving higher success (Herbert, 2006).  

Factors which influence the service delivery and supply chain management activities of the firm

The overall supply chain of Dabbawallahs are made up of people and they have proved it with their success. There are various factors which influences the supply chain management activities of the firm such as:

Human resource factor: It is the most important factor for following the process of high class service delivery as well as success of supply chain management. Organizations are building around people not around technology. The overall success of Dabbawallahs is mainly connected with the human resource system. It is quite essential all the people working around them should be motivated so that they can provide their customers timely services (Ravichandran, 2009).  Increasing group member is one of the most crucial and important task for them and it is necessary for them to maintain the growth rate of their human resource department.  

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Competition: Service delivery of the company can be highly affected by the tough competition due to increasing fast food centres as well as restaurants and hotels. It is the main reason through which most of the people and customers of the Dabbawallahs are moving towards different fast food centres. It highly affects the overall service quality as well as delivery of company. Eating trends are changing nowadays very faster and due to this reason customers are relying on other means for their lunch. It may be a big reason for shrinking customer base and loyalty (Roncaglia, 2013).  

Limitation of Dabbawallah without technology: Dabbawallahs system mainly covers a wide range of homes sources as well as office destinations. The delivers will pick up their dabbas in the morning time and deliver it to their offices in certain time. (Mabey and Lees, 2007) stated that a special code is used to identify the information of delivering goods. From another aspect it can be determined that system is destined to be limited in a small area. The overall delivery system heavily depends on the train network inside the Mumbai area and in order to reduce transportation cost a huge amount of goods must be delivery at one time (Lewis, Pun and Lalla, 2004).  

Transportation: They are using one of the best low cost transportation services for following the overall process of their supply chain management. In addition to this, they cannot easily expand their business in different cities as they are serving all their business operations with the support of local train of Mumbai. It can be defined as the backbone of their business and they cannot expand their business due to unavailability of local trains everywhere ().  

Weather condition of Mumbai: It can be defined as a biggest factor through which all the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai are required to suffer. Due to the monsoon season they cannot easily deliver the Tiffin's on given time.  

Cultural factor: It is not possible for Dabbawallahs to go to the other cities for their service deliver and it might have a big obstacle for them. They have a fix range and fix areas where they deliver Tiffin and it is quite difficult for them to serve their services in different cities. It can only be possible if people approach them and from other city. For this purpose they are required to take effective training and introduce their services in respective areas (Monika, Sourabh and Anuraag, 2014).   
The system of Dabbawallahs will fail if it simply ignores the great impact from technology innovation. These are the most important factors which highly influence the overall service quality of the company as well as the process of supply chain management. Patel and Vedula, (2006) mentioned that every group should come up with new ideas and target new customers so that they can easily achieve greater profit. The changing customer needs should be first major concern of Dabbawallahs (Patel and Vedula, 2006).  

Future growth of Dabbawallahs

According to Pathak (2010) next generation people do not seem to be greatly interested in the Dabbawallahs for so many reasons as well as their changing perception. For this purpose, Dabbawallahs should come up with the alternatives so that they can please their customers. Human resource management is one of the most important elements for the success of organizational goals. From this point of view, it can be clearly determined that modern human resources management practices must not be left aside and it should be proactively applies to a firm's supply chain. In today's globalized world needs of customers are changing rapidly as well as their taste and preference is also changing. In the present time 5000 Dabbawallah are serving more 2 lakh people of the Mumbai. As per the increasing customer rate it is quite difficult for them to survive in the future (Cornell University, 2013). There will be cut throat competition is faced by them from the growing fast food centers like pizza hut, MacDonald's etc. There are several other factors which may leads to impact its future growth such as shortage of manpower, political crisis, increasing customer base as well as technological advancements. Due to the advanced technologies people are much more concern about the latest technologies used by cooking. Most of the customers will be concern about the home delivery of various fast food centers by giving order online. It is the biggest threat faced by them and due to which they can be decrease their market share in future. 


This is the most important chapter of any research as it helps the researcher in finding out most relevant data related to the given subject matter. There are various tools and techniques have been incorporated through which most suitable information can be gathered.  

Research Philosophy  

There are different thought process of different individuals which mainly consist two types of research philosophies i.e. Interpretivism and positivism. In the present study, Interpretivism philosophy is being utilized as researcher can easily involve their own aspects. It helps in analyzing the overall results in the qualitative form with the help of the thematic analysis. With the help of this philosophy researcher can easily find out the most effective results about the supply chain management process of Dabbawallahs.  

Research Approach

Inductive and deductive are two main research approach through which researcher can find out more relevant information about the given subject matter. In order to obtain a particular set of activities given by the research aims and objectives it is necessary to define the different process of thinking of different individuals. In the present research, Inductive research approach is taken into consideration. With the help of this approach researcher can easily find most suitable information about the supply chain management of Mumbai Dabbawallahs. This approach helps the researcher in finding out more information about the given subject matter.  

Research Design

There are different types of research design that is being used in any research i.e. descriptive, meta-analytic, explorative, experimental etc. All the research issues can be properly examined by the researcher with the help of preparing a systematic plan. In this present case descriptive research design is being utilized so that better achievements of objectives can be done. It provides most appropriate information with authentic outcomes about the logistic and supply chain management of Mumbai Dabbawallahs.  

Data collection

The top most responsibility of any researcher is to find out most suitable information about the given subject matter. In order to collect appropriate information about the given subject matter it is quite essential to gather most relevant data. It can be gathered by primary and secondary sources. In the present case secondary data sources will be utilized. In order to collect most suitable information about the given subject matter secondary data will be collected by the various past literature reviews as well as online articles. It provides all the information related to the past study done by various researches.  

Data Analysis

With the help of the proper data analysis researcher can get valid outcomes and research findings. Qualitative and quantitative are two main techniques used by researcher so that appropriate findings can be design. In the present case, qualitative technique is being utilized and all the data collected by the secondary sources. For this purpose, thematic analysis is the most suitable approach in which different themes is being developed as per the given literature review. It helps in going through the proper data analysis and gives valid outcomes and results. By designing various themes researcher can find out most appropriate findings from the overall research.  

Ethical consideration

In any research it is quite essential to maintain the authenticity and validity of research in order to find out best outcomes. Various ethical frameworks need to be followed by researcher so that overall effectiveness of the research can be easily maintained. It is essential to determine that all the data is being collected by the authentic sources and plagiarism will not be marked anywhere in the research. By following the entire ethical framework investigator have to follow all the activities. The top most concern for any research is to maintain the confidentiality of the overall information gathered by the researcher.  

Limitations of the research  

One of the major limitations faced by the researcher is related to the data collection. Data has been collected by all the secondary sources which take lot of time in searching. Most of the time researcher cannot easily find out the data required by them after searching it for a deep. In addition to this, lack of resources, time and funds are the major barriers and limitations of the study.  


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  • Bondre, S., 2013. MUMBAI’S DABBAWALA The Uncommon Story of the Common Man. Westland.
  • Denscombe, M., 2002. Ground Rules for Good Research. Open University Press.
  • Gregory, I., 2003. Ethics in Research. Continuum.
  • Herbert, K., 2006. Research Methodologies in Supply Chain Management. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Kothari, R. C., 2004. Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques. New Age International.
  • Lodico, G. M., Spaulding, T. D. and Voegtle, H. K., 2010. Methods in Educational Research: From Theory to Practice. 2nd Ed. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Mabey, C. and Lees, T., 2007. Management and Leadership Development. SAGE.
  • Monika, S., Sourabh, G. and Anuraag, A., 2014. Innovative marketing channels in India: Utilizing the brand image of Mumbai Dabbawala and IPL. Asian Journal of Management. 5(2).
  • Patel, N. and Vedula, N. 2006. Dabbawalas of Mumbai. White Paper Kenan-Flagler Business School.
  • Patel, N. and Vedula, N., 2006. Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina.
  • Pathak, G.S., 2010. Delivering the Nation: The Dabbawalas of Mumbai. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 33(2). pp.235.257.
  • Ravichandran, N., 2009. World Class Logistics Operations: The case of Bombay Dabbawallahs.
  • Roncaglia, S., 2013. Feeding the City: Work and Food Culture of the Mumbai Dabbawalas. Open Book Publishers.
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