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Quantum Computing’s Possible Benefits in the Supply Chain

By IQT News posted 12 Nov 2020

(SupplyChainDigital) The world’s technology community is focused on harnessing the exponential opportunities promised by quantum computing. While it may be some time before we see the true benefits of this emerging technology, and while nothing is certain, the possibilities are great.
Right now, tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM and Intel continue to lead the charge when it comes to the development of quantum computers. While continuous improvement will still be required in the years to come, many tech companies are already offering access to quantum computing features.
This is good news for multiple industries but in particular those areas of the supply chain where problems around efficiency occur. Current optimisation systems used in inventory allocation and order promising fail to meet the expectations of supply chain planners for a few reasons.
**As a supply chain network grows in complexity, and the optimisation engine takes longer to complete the plans. The result is delayed system availability to users.
**Supply chain planners perform quick simulations by changing the planning parameters, essentially performing ‘what-if’ scenarios. In complex supply chain networks, simulations take longer to complete as well, potentially eradicating the advantages of finding a quick solution and testing these scenarios.
As manufacturers incorporate more IoT sensors into their daily operations, they harvest vast amounts of enterprise data. Quantum computing can handle these complex variables within a decision-making model with a high degree of excellence. Harmonising various types of data from different sources makes it especially useful for optimising resource management and logistics within the supply chain.
Quantum computing could be applied to improve dynamic inventory allocation, as well as helping manufacturers govern their energy distribution, water usage, and network design. The precision of this technology allows for a very detailed account of the energy used on the production floor in real-time, for example.
“Quantum computing holds huge potential for the logistics area of the supply chain,” says Shiraz Sidat, Operations Manager of Speedel, a Leicestershire based B2B courier firm that works in the supply chain of a number of aerospace and manufacturing companies.
Quantum computing has the potential to disrupt the planning landscape. Planners can run plans at the flick of a button, performing scenario simulations on the fly.
many tech companies are providing aspects of quantum computing through an as-a-service model, which could well prove the most successful path for future widespread use.
Alongside AI, the IoT, blockchain and automation, quantum computing is one of many digital tools likely to shape, streamline and optimise the future of the supply chain. As with all emerging technology, it requires an open mind and cautious optimism.

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