(ZDNet) Canadian grocery chain Save-On-Foods has become an unlikely pioneer using quantum technology to improve the management of in-store logistics.
In collaboration with quantum computing company D-Wave, Save-On-Foods is using a new type of computing, which is based on the downright weird behaviour of matter at the quantum level. And it’s already seeing promising results.
The company’s engineers approached D-Wave with a logistics problem that classical computers were incapable of solving. Within two months, the concept had translated into a hybrid quantum algorithm that was running in one of the supermarket stores, reducing the computing time for some tasks from 25 hours per week down to mere seconds.
Save-On-Foods is now looking at expanding the technology to other stores, and exploring new ways that quantum could help with other issues. Quantum annealing, is especially suitable for optimisation tasks such as the logistics problems faced by Save-On-Foods. D-Wave has proven a popular choice in this field, and has offered a quantum annealer over the cloud since 2010, which it has now upgraded to a 5,000-qubit-strong processor.
The challenge for quantum computing companies lies in building quantum computers that contain enough qubits for useful calculations to be carried out. Most quantum computers currently work with less than 100 qubits, and tech giants such as IBM and Google are racing to increase that number in order to build a meaningful quantum computer as early as possible.
The quantum ecosystem is buzzing with activity, and is growing fast. “Companies in the industries where quantum will have the greatest potential for complete disruption should get involved in quantum right now,” says Ostojic.
Chemistry, oil and gas, transportation, logistics, banking and cybersecurity are often cited as sectors that quantum technology could significantly transform.
Although no CIO expects quantum to deliver value for the next five to ten years, the most forward-thinking businesses are already anticipating the wave of innovation that the technology will bring about eventually — so that when it does, they will be the first to benefit from it.

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