Quantum computing has the potential to bring extraordinary changes to the supply chain. With quantum computers up to 100x more powerful than traditional computers, that’s perhaps not surprising.
Classical computers are binary, and process information using bits. Every bit can only exist as a one or a zero. A bit is a representation of either one state or another.
In the case of quantum computers, information is processed using qubits. They can exist in states of ones, zeros, anything in-between, and even all of these, at the same time.
One of the key hallmarks that separate quantum from classical computing is “entanglement”. This is where qubits can be linked to other qubits.
In entanglement, the quantum algorithm is powered by linked qubits, each in their undetermined and entangled state. This opens a continuum of possibilities and enables quantum computers to solve problems up to 100 million times faster than classical computers and solve problems that classical computers can’t.
Until recently, quantum computers were a distant pipe dream for many. After all, they needed to be stored in unique conditions within the labs of tech titans like Google and Nasa.
However, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is now predicting that we will see the first generation of commercially-available, quantum-inspired devices by 2025.
Quantum Computing and the Supply Chain
At IBM’s virtual roundtable event, Solving Business Problems with Quantum Computing, leading quantum experts discussed how quantum computing could theoretically be used to tackle challenges linked to the pandemic-induced changes in businesses, including supply chain disruption.
Jamie Thomas, general manager at IBM Systems Strategy & Development, said the pandemic illustrated the need for quantum computing and the promises it holds to provide solutions to unprecedented events.
Many are considering how a similar crisis could be avoided in future by incorporating quantum computing systems within supply chains.
More and more manufacturers are incorporating sensors into their operations, gleaning vast amounts of enterprise data; quantum computing could handle this vast, ever-changing stream of data within a decision-making model, equipping members of the supply chain with the rapid insight needed to optimise resource management and logistics.
Manufacturers are currently seeing unpredictable spikes in demand. Quantum computing could enable plants to respond and prepare for shifts in utility usage and demand, allowing them to detail a specific accounting of the energy used on the production floor in real-time.
Quantum systems wouldn’t just rely on internal data either; they could create models based on multiple sources from natural disasters, weather predictions, economic trends, and other factors that could impact shipments.and understand how we can apply new techniques like quantum computing to solving these kinds of problems,” said Thomas.
“Because when you get into a situation like COVID-19 it’s not only the complexity you have to deal with but the time element. I think there’s a lot more we can do with supply chain and quantum as we move forward.”
These powerful systems wouldn’t just rely on internal data either; they could create models based on multiple sources from natural disasters, weather predictions, economic trends, and other factors that could impact shipments.