Blue Tree Systems has been in the international telematics industry for nearly 20 years. They focus on larger fleets, and have a particular emphasis on reefer monitoring. Despite the long tenure, Blue Tree’s current generations of ELD and fleet management products feel very new. Drivers use the ELD with either a Garmin or a TomTom. The device connects via WiFi to Blue Tree’s BT500 hardware, which plugs into the vehicle to record motion and engine data. Most of the standard features you’d expect are present: logs, DVIRs, messaging, navigation, engine codes, IFTA, etc. The app feels fairly modern and easy to understand.
However the feeling of newness continues into less pleasant territory. Some parts of the software don’t seem quite completed yet. Drivers cannot yet email or fax their logs from the tablet. Daily recap hours for the upcoming week are not easily visible. There is a general purpose Android app that would allow the system to be used on a driver’s personal smartphone or tablet, but it currently has limited features and does not support HOS recording. Also partially under construction is Blue Tree’s new fleet management software for back office users. The new software is web based and much more modern than their older desktop software. However, not all functionality has been moved to the new system yet. So fleet managers still find themselves accessing the old system to perform functions such as correcting logs or assigning unlogged driving. The older software is dated and clunky, so continued migration to the new web-based platform will be a welcome change.
Given the work-in-progress feeling of some of the software, the price tag may be a tough pill for many fleets to swallow. At nearly $1000, the up-front hardware cost is among the most expensive on the market. That price gets you the BT500 hardware and the Garmin option. Going with TomTom increases the price somewhat. Monthly service too is on the higher side at $40/mo. Financing options are also available which include both hardware and service for around $60/mo on a 5 year contract. Some larger fleet budgets may support this, but many smaller customers will likely find more bang for their buck elsewhere.
While Blue Tree may still have work to do on their newer core products, they do have some interesting features that might make them worth the price tag for certain fleets. For one, the unit can be installed completely behind the dashboard, making it more covert and resistant to tampering. Not many products on the market are designed to work well when hidden under dash panels, so this is an interesting advantage for fleets worried about theft or drivers disabling their e-logs. The fact that the system runs on Garmin and TomTom gives the driver built-in, truck-specific navigation. The app also has some interesting tools like HOS coaching which is designed to help a driver plan their day and get the most out of their driving and on duty time. Being a long-time player in the industry also means Blue Tree tends to have existing integrations with a lot of major software providers like TMW, McLeod, etc.
So the system has some compelling features. Large fleets, especially those in the reefer business, may find them worth a serious look. But much of the newer software does not seem quite ready for prime time, and most fleets might be wise to wait a while and see how the product shapes up. Once all the missing pieces are put together, Blue Tree may have a very robust (if expensive) product. Right now, it’s hard not to make the case that it is overpriced. Check back on this review for updates as the product continues to develop.
UP FRONT COST
3-YEAR TOTAL COST
Pros & Cons
- Covert, tamper resistant
- Extra features for reefer fleets
- Garmin / Tom Tom Navigation
- Software still feels “Under Construction”
- Fairly time consuming to install
Blue tree is junk avoid at all costs. Always losing signal. Takes days to get corrected and poses serious issues should you get a DOT inspection. And calling for help is useless. Always on hold.
Installation is straight forward. However, hope you have a clear understanding of how it works, because support doesn’t. If tracker loses signal it messes with driver’s HOS. Support is little help and takes days to help. Pay attention to contract, they didn’t flow their agreements with us.
It has the bells and whistles that reflect the price tag, but some software funks and a lengthy install process leave me to not give 5 stars.