Supply Chain Optimization using quantum computers and hybrid technology

A. Khan
ZebraKet, Ltd.,
United States

Keywords: supply chain, optimization, quantum computers, inventory, use case, annealing, hybrid, benchmark


Quantum computing is getting more popular as a technology that could solve valuable problems that today’s computers cannot. Although it is at the early stage of development, innovators and researchers around the world have already started to figure out how Np-hard problems can be solved by leveraging quantum computing. These problems cannot be solved with deterministic methods in polynomial time. There are many Np-hard problems in each discipline, and we are focusing on operations management and research. As the business environment is changing, companies need to create new core competitive advantages to get more market share. Customers’ requirements are changing and being responsible for social development and environmental impacts of business operations will put more pressure on businesses. It is time to reconfigure the business settings in which not only quality and cost matter, but social and environmental impacts also have a huge impact on the reputation and financial stability of companies. One aspect of operations research is resource management. Companies should use resources wisely and in such a way, that enhances their resiliency. We aim to identify quantum computing advantages and leverage them to remove the barriers and enhance resource allocation. We focus on how quantum computing could build a bridge to convert business operations into resilient, sustainable, and intelligent activities. For this purpose, we started looking at inventory management as a backbone of any supply chain network and identifying Np-hard problems that can be solved by the latest development in quantum computing. Although we are still in the era of Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ), we strongly believe that now is the time to leverage hybrid quantum computing and be ready to implement methods on gate-based quantum computers in the future thereby harness the full advantages of quantum computing. During this presentation, we will show an innovative way to replenish and schedule ordering and also to manage a multi-echelon inventory system in a complex supply chain network to improve the level of resiliency in the case of disruptions. Every year companies around the world are spending billions of dollars due to the lack of accuracy in their replenishment and scheduling decision-making and also due to the increasing number of disruptions throughout the year. We believe the era of silo-base optimization has come to an end and thanks to quantum computing, we can fill this gap. To this end, we try to solve our combinatorial optimization problem and benchmark it against the most accepted industry solver. Our method will seek the best possible solution from a finite set of possibilities using a hybrid quantum system. In the end, we identify the business values provided by quantum computing to solve this unique problem. Results show that using quantum computing not only improves efficiency, but it increases the level of resiliency and sustainability. This unique finding has several use cases in various industries, and it paves the way to fully utilizing quantum computing for real world applications in the future.