Every Innovation Starts With A Conversation

As DOTs struggle with staffing shortages, e-Ticketing can reduce the need for inspectors by 25 percent.  

By Angie Schmitt 

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Image Courtesy of The National E-Ticketing Task Force. Karthik Subramanya presenting at Tran-SET in Austin.

State transportation departments are increasingly struggling to fill key vacancies. However, emerging technologies can reduce burdensome paperwork and free up existing employees to fulfill key functions. 

That’s according to new research on the benefits of e-Ticketing from Dr. Karthik Subramanya and a team at the University of Texas Arlington. The paper was presented at the ASCE Proceedings of Transportation Consortium of South-Central States in July.  

Subramanya and his team conducted surveys with 53 professionals at 20 state transportation departments. Among those surveyed, staffing shortages were universal. Every respondent reported difficulty in hiring enough inspectors. A plurality of those surveyed said these shortages were frequent. 

With that being said, the research team found that implementing software programs that digitize and automate the materials transfer process could reduce the pressure and potentially lead to big savings. Using data provided by the survey respondents, the paper concluded that the average time savings from instituting e-ticketing would be 30 minutes to 90 minutes per inspector per day. That would allow understaffed state DOTs to reduce the inspector workforce by about 25 percent. 

“Handing off and entering data through paper tickets is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process that necessitates several ‘touchpoints’ along the way, and the paper tickets lack material traceability since it is not uncommon for them to be lost or damaged, resulting in delayed billing and a waste of considerable time/resources,” the authors write. “In contrast, digitally saved data can be retrieved with ease.” 

Not only does the paperwork involved in managing the supply chain on a construction project with paper tickets carry an enormous administrative burden for inspectors, often additional administrative staff must be employed to manage the files. In addition, safety risks to inspectors and engineers are presented when retrieving paper tickets from active job sites.  

“Statewide adoption of e-Ticketing can be of great benefit for organizations coping with dwindling workforces, rising expenses, and delayed schedules,” the authors concluded. “By utilizing e-Ticketing, State DOTs could realize significant savings, and alleviate the nation’s chronic workforce shortage of highway construction inspectors.”