Picturesque

Super logisticians point the way to the future

Hot stuff: in the Indian megacity of Mumbai, dabbawalas deliver freshly cooked lunches using a 125-year-old system – and they do so making virtually no mistakes at all

Photo: imago/imagebroker


These logisticians are virtually infallible – and with their age-old system they are well on their way to the future: when the approximately 5,000 dabbawalas (sometimes also refered to as dabbawallas) in Mumbai, India, deliver lunches by bicycle or cart, they only get it wrong about once in 16 million deliveries. This level of success is made possible thanks to a highly organized work-sharing process where the metal containers (the dabbas) are passed on several times throughout their journey – each container coded using colors, letters and numbers. The outstanding reliability of these men – all dressed in white – has come to the notice of a provider of digital services, who now uses them as last-mile logisticians. Now some of the dabbawalas front up to their customers not with a steaming lunch, but with a laptop in order to register rental agreements or to carry out marriage registrations. They also deliver presentations to managers.


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