miƩrcoles, 30 de julio de 2014

The Dabbawalas

This post will be devoted to explore one of the many sets of tools for process improvement, six sigma. 

But don’t worry about a tedious post with lots of theory and boring stuff. Just a very quick overview to have some context before travelling to India to discover one of the very few businesses that have been able to comply with the six sigma principles!

Introduced by Motorola in 1986, today, it is used in many industrial sectors. Six sigma seek to improve quality by identifying and removing causes of defects or errors and minimizing variability in manufacturing processes

A Six sigma process is one in which 99, 99966% of the products manufactured are free of defects, that is an error rate of 3.4 per million units manufactured, quite an ambitious challenge!

Now we know what six sigma is, allow me to take you to India, where there is a business that has achieved 99.9966% of effectiveness, but before that, I want you to stop thinking about bleeding edge technology, Harvard master minds or bright recently created companies, because most of the people that have achieved what today is the goal of the most cutting edge companies can barely read and most of them probably never have had a computer anywhere around their working facilities.

If you think this is not possible, let me introduce you to the Dabbawalas. A Dabbawala is a person in India, generally in Mumbai, who collects hot food in lunch boxes from the residences of workers in the late morning, delivers the lunches to the workplace utilizing various modes of transport, predominantly bicycles and the railway trains, and returns the empty boxes back to the customer's residence that afternoon.