Blue Tree Systems ELD

UP FRONT COST            MONTHLY COST              2-YEAR TOTAL COST

$995                                  $40                                        $1,955

 

PROS:
New, modern ELD hardware
Offers relevant features for reefer fleets
Built in navigation provided by Garmin or Tomtom
Can be installed very discreetly, and seems difficult to remove or tamper with

 

CONS:
Very expensive
Currently missing features required by the ELD mandate
Have to use multiple versions of product to access all features
Not easy to install

 

Cost        Hardware      Elog App      Fleet App      Features      Total
1 / 5         3 / 5                 2.5 / 5            2.5 / 5            3.5 / 5           2.5 / 5

 

Intro
Blue Tree Systems (“BTS”) has been a player in the international telematics market for the last two decades. Best known for their reefer monitoring services, BTS has always focused on large fleets. With the introduction of their first Electronic Logging Device, it seems that focus onlarger fleets has remained.

 

Device / Installation / Connectivity -     3.5 / 5
BTS’s first ELD is meant to be used with either a Garmin or a TomTom display device. The display device connects via WiFi to Blue Tree’s BT500 hardware, which plugs into the vehicle to record motion and engine data. It includes standard features such as logs, DVIRs, messaging, navigation, engine codes, and IFTA.

The app has a nice design with an easy to navigate UI. But there is a major feature required by the ELD mandate that is inexplicably left out. Drivers can’t email or fax their logs from the tablet. The daily recap hours for the upcoming week are strangely hard to find as well. This could disqualify it from being useful.

 

ELog Mobile App For Drivers - 2 / 5
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. Until the App supports Hours of Service recording it is basically useless to anyone interested in BTS as an Elog or ELD solution.

 

Website For Fleet Managers - 2 / 5
Blue Tree’s new fleet management software for back office use is still a work in progress. The new software is web based and much more modern look and feel than their older desktop software.
However, not all functionality has been moved to the new system yet. So fleet managers still have to use the old system to do things such as correcting logs or assigning unlogged driving. The older software is dated and clunky. For fleet managers new to fleet management software solutions being more or less required to navigate between two versions of the same system that do not look, feel or function like each other is difficult and frustrating.

 

Cost - 1.5 / 5
With an upfront cost of almost $1,000, Blue Tree Systems is one of the most expensive ELD solutions on the market. For that price, A customer receives the BT500 hardware and a Garmin device. For customers that would prefer to the pair the BT500 with the Tomtom display, the upfront price is even higher.

BTS’s monthly service fees are in the higher range of the market as well, coming in at $40 per month. With the high upfront cost and comparatively expensive MRC (monthly recurring charge).

There are financing options available for Fleets that want the BTS system installed in their trucks but can’t afford the upfront cost. One such option provides both the hardware and the software for no money down and $60 per month on a five year contract.

 

Additional Features / Comparison to Market - 3.5 / 5
BTS’s ELD solution does have some interesting features that might make it worth the price tag for certain fleets.

First, the unit can be installed completely behind the dashboard, making it completely hidden and resistant to tampering. Not many products on the market are designed to work well when completely hidden under the 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 Hours of Service 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.

 

Conclusion - 2.5 / 5
The upfront and monthly price points for the BTS system will make it an unlikely option for most small or mid-sized fleets that can find better deals elsewhere from other competitors. Larger Reefer fleets will want to give BTS a serious look.

However, until the new software is fully functional and free of bugs, many fleet managers might look elsewhere. The functionality will need to expand significantly to justify the high cost. Until that time, it is extremely expensive for what is currently offered.

 

Display Device
Type: Dedicated / Proprietary
OS: Android

 

Features
DVIR
Two-way messaging
Navigation
Engine Info (MPGs, faults, etc)
IFTA
Document Scanning
Drivers can make log corrections

 

Price per unit
Up-front cost: 995
Monthly cost: 40
3-year Total Cost: 1955

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