Like the adage goes, trucks keep American business moving. Keeping on top of the data flowing from those trucks is where Timothy Leonard comes in.

In one massive project, Leonard set up the in-cab capabilities of U.S. Xpress’ DriverTech system in a way where data is capture and a data warehouse BI solution integrates operational information figures – more than 900 data elements, such as driver name, truck number, location, route – with near-real-time information coming from sensors monitoring the truck’s engine.

From there, Leonard’s team oversees a dashboard display linked to corporate remote direct control of options such as air conditioner usage, which is monitored at select times or when the driver is off the road. The company makes no b ones about its “big brother” monitoring; U.S. Xpress keeps in contact with drivers on the process, and rewards truckers who meet or exceed fuel and idling reductions.

“I can tell you, within two minutes, where that driver’s located at. I could tell you geofencing capabilities on how long that truck’s been sitting there, how much fuel it’s consuming, whether they have their heater on, their air conditioner on,” Leonard said of the data tools in use. “I can actually control the mechanisms. If the person’s got [air conditioning] set to 52 degrees, we can call the driver up in the cab and ask, ‘Hey, while you’re at this stop for 8 hours, the policy is 68 degrees. We’ll adjust it for you if you don’t adjust it.’”

Leonard was selected as one of Information Management’s “25 Top Information Managers of 2011.” For a slide show of all the honorees, click here.

U.S Express’s DriverTech system delivers information on savings initiatives and fuel use fors about 10,000 drivers and almost 30,000 truck trailers traveling across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The result? Idling has been reduced to about 40 percent of pre-system consumption, equating to about $17 million saved on fuel costs annually from that venture alone.

Two distinct, but quite different work backgrounds have helped Leonard pull off projects like these. As a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, Leonard was actively involved in communications and organization of efficient efforts. From there, he went to Dell, where he designed their 1.8 petabyte global data warehouse.

Along with engine data tracking and green initiatives at U.S. Xpress – which are being shared with much of the trucking community of mostly smaller operators, Leonard’s big new push has been into mobile BI. Unlike other industries reliant on transportation, Leonard said the trucking industry had not kept up with advances in the data system capabilities on mobile devices. He worked  to get iPads for the trucking fleet managers across the country and, after discussions and training for the C-level, Droids with BI reports into the hands of the executive team. Leonard said the attitude toward connectivity has shifted in all areas of the trucking giant, with a spike in awareness of company information that put an end to decades when data “fell on the floor.”

“We’re a trucking company, we should be mobile,” he says. “When I showed up [at U.S. Xpress] … the owner looked at me and said, ‘You’ve got two years to get me mobile again.’ That’s what we did.”

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