June 2, 2017: Business Journal Article
March 23, 2017: Seafood Expo North America 2017
By Madelyn Kearns, Editor
Published on Thursday, March 23, 2017
Naeem Zafar, the co-founder and CEO of TeleSense, a developer of environmental monitoring technology based out of Sunnyvale, California U.S.A., has been a mainstay of Silicon Valley for many years, starting seven companies over the course of his career there.
TeleSense, Zafar’s seventh company, was envisioned to enhance the technological capacity and traceability of the food industry, a largely “untapped market,” the executive explained to SeafoodSource during the 2017 Seafood Expo North America / Seafood Processing North America event in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The food industry has not adopted technology until very recently, and it’s still wide open. We felt that this was one of the biggest untapped markets, where we can really make a difference,” Zafar said.
“The new regulation, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), is the trigger point. When there’s a new regulation, everyone has to deploy something. Today, only 15 percent of [food] companies use technology for alerting, traceability and/or compliance. Eighty-five percent are still up for grabs. They have nothing,” Zafar added.
Seafood companies in particular require extensive temperature controls and alerts to ensure the quality of the product, from water to warehouse to retail and/or restaurant. For seafood, “mobility is key and traceability is key, and you need to know the whole trace,” said Zafar, which is why TeleSense is dedicated to developing what it calls a “Food Safety Passport.”
“The idea is, just like when you arrive at a destination at a border check, the passport tells you all the countries you’ve visited and how long you were there,” he said. “Imagine the same kind of food safety passport for seafood. If I’m at the Marriot Hotel chain, and I’m taking delivery, I want to know the history of this tuna: Where was it caught? Was it in the right temperature during transit or did it sit in the dark and wait for two days?”
The technologies developed by TeleSense are equipped for end-to-end traceability, or a level of transparency that covers the entirety of the seafood supply chain. Because, as of now, “most of the industry does piecemeal,” according to Zafar, which won’t cut it under new regulations and keeps seafood operations officers and warehouse managers in a perpetually anxious state.
“A trucking company will have some temperature monitoring, but they’ll only pick [the product] up, then drop it off. That’s nice, but what about the whole chain? The idea is to create the chain, and maintain the chain,” said Zafar.
TeleSense just rolled out its second generation remote time-temperature record (Continuous TTR) monitoring system, which involves a series of sensors and a gateway modem device with an LCD screen for ease of reading. This TeleSensor system provides real-time alerts and auto-generated reports to make regulatory compliance easy, explained Zafar, with all information and data collected by devices under the system’s umbrella uploaded instantaneously to the cloud for processing and analytics using industrial strength, extremely secure IoT technology. Administers of the system receive text alerts and reports, without having to seek or tap it out, which is all by design.
“The idea is to automate. To take a process that was subject to human error, and remove that risk,” said Zafar. “If you try to get people to use technology, people resist – they’ll keep doing things the way they’ve done them. Smart technology is when you wrap the technology around the user.”
TeleSense’s smart technology has helped the company’s seafood customers, such as retailer True World Foods, sleep easier at night, said Zafar.
Moving forward into 2017 and 2018, the technology company is looking to move beyond risk management to capacity-boosting applications of technology, potentially entering the aquaponics and hydroponics sectors.
“We are working on several new ideas,” Zafar said. “We’re excited.”