Application of Lean Engineering to Bridge Inspection

Abigail R. Clarke-Sather, Jennifer R. McConnell, Emal Masoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biannual bridge inspections are federally mandated for hundreds of thousands of bridges in the United States. This represents a significant expenditure of labor and equipment resources. Lean engineering is a framework to improve the efficiency of processes, which was applied to the bridge inspection process in this work. Thirty-two routine bridge inspections were shadowed and analyzed as a four-stage process (consisting of document review, mobilization and demobilization, onsite inspection, and report writing) that included 52 distinct activities. Each activity that occurred during a shadowed bridge inspection was categorized as value added or by type of waste. Most of the time was considered value added, but several types of waste were identified for possible reduction. Statistical analysis showed significant differences in the duration of bridge inspection for certain bridge types and inspection equipment utilized. With the many aging bridges in the United States, utilizing lean engineering to identify areas for further improvement has the potential for reducing the effort of routine bridge inspection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04020120
JournalJournal of Bridge Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this research was provided by the National University Transportation Center Consortium’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), under Grant/Contract No. DTRT13-G-UTC28. The in-kind support of Delaware Department of Transportation and Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP in facilitating shadowing activities is also gratefully acknowledged. Thanks to Tracy Bibelnieks for data visualization consulting.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • Bridge inspection
  • Bridge inspection shadowing
  • Lean engineering
  • Statistical analysis
  • Value-added time


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