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7 Min Read

From qubits to cubic feet: Quantum logistics explained 

noviembre 22, 2023 / Sean Tinney

Short on time? Read the key takeaways:  

  • Quantum computing has the potential to transform supply chain and logistics management.  
  • The technology's near-real-time data processing and enhanced decision-making capabilities can help bring unprecedented efficiency, resilience and sustainability to the logistics industry. 
  • The application of quantum computing to supply chain management is already in motion, and the effects are profound, including optimizing loading strategy and routing logic. 

The worlds of theory and real-life application of next-gen technology are now powering the supply chain. The introduction of quantum logistics — a concept that could transform how we handle data, make decisions and optimize our supply chains — is poised to reshape the future of logistics management.  

In a recent episode of The Loadstar Podcast, Sean Tinney, vice president of global Enterprise Computing Solutions at Unisys, shared valuable insights into the significance of quantum logistics and its impact on the supply chain landscape. Here’s a recap of his main points.  

What is quantum logistics?   

Quantum logistics is not a term you’ll find in a traditional logistics playbook because it represents a paradigm shift. To fully understand how this emerging technology is shifting supply chain logistics, it’s essential to understand its foundation. 

Remember the summer of Barbenheimer? The cultural phenomenon centered on the simultaneous theatrical release of Barbie and Oppenheimer in 2023. That cultural moment elevated important issues within our collective consciousness. Barbie explored themes related to patriarchy and feminism. The latter brought quantum physics — the predecessor of quantum computing — into the spotlight with Christopher Nolan’s biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb.”  

Beyond the big screen, quantum computing is not your average computing powerhouse. Unlike classical computers, which rely on binary bits (0s and 1s), quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. Qubits have a unique property called superposition, allowing them to represent multiple states simultaneously. This means quantum computers can process an enormous amount of data and perform complex calculations at unprecedented speeds. It's like having a supercharged computer capable of exploring countless possibilities in the blink of an eye. 

Quantum’s implications on logistics management  

With the introduction of quantum logistics, quantum computing has become more than a theoretical discussion. The real-life application of quantum computing is changing logistics management — a ripe use case for this technology due to the industry facing four key challenges:   

  • Data: Quantum computing can analyze vast datasets within seconds, expediting decision-making. 
  • Complex modeling: It can accurately model complex systems, such as if/then scenarios, to help with predictive aspects of logistics management. 
  • Urgent decision-making: Quantum computing enables real-time data analysis, enhancing operational efficiency. 
  • Complexity challenges: Quantum computing solves intricate optimization problems that conventional computers struggle with, such as finding the most optimized routes. 

As each parcel, container and pallet move through the supply chain, they collectively generate vast quantities of data. Traditional computing methods struggle to process this data quickly, leading to delays and suboptimal decisions. Factors like weather events, traffic and unforeseen delays can disrupt routing and scheduling, making near-real-time data processing crucial.  

With quantum computing, you can process this data in near-real-time to make better and faster data-informed decisions. And when quantum is combined with other technologies — like advanced analytics and AI — you can harness the full power of your data. 

The application of quantum computing to supply chain management is already in motion, and the effects are profound: 

  • Near-real-time data processing: Quantum computing's immense speed allows for real-time data processing. Every sensor reading, location update or inventory change can be instantaneously processed, leading to more agile and responsive supply chains. 
  • Enhanced decision-making: Quantum logistics relies on advanced analytics and AI to make sense of the abundance of data. It's not just about processing data quickly; it's about making smarter, more informed decisions. AI algorithms can learn and adapt in near-real-time, guiding supply chain professionals to optimal choices. 
  • Optimized inventory management: Quantum logistics can predict the best locations for inventory, considering factors like climate control, weight sensitivity and time constraints. This granular level of inventory optimization helps ensure products are in the right place at the right time. 
  • Efficient loading strategies: Quantum computing automates loading strategies by determining how to build the most efficient pallets, unit load devices or bins. This decision logic considers various freight sensitivities and transportation modes, which can result in faster, more efficient loading processes. 
  • Quicker routing logic: Quantum logistics can examine multiple route options — from road transportation to air shipping — to find the most efficient route in a dynamic, ever-changing environment. Traffic jam? Popup weather event? No problem. Quantum logistics can reanalyze routes and provide the quickest path to a destination considering these disruptions, helping products get to their destination with the least amount of time, fuel and resources expended. 

Pioneering the new era in logistics management 

Quantum computing has the potential to transform how we manage our supply chains. The technology's near-real-time data processing and enhanced decision-making capabilities can help bring unprecedented efficiency, resilience and sustainability to logistics and shipping, setting a new standard for supply chain excellence.  

Are you ready to experience the new frontier of logistics innovation? Unisys Logistics Optimization™ combines quantum computing, AI and advanced analytics to help logistics leaders realize efficiency gains to boost their bottom line. To learn more, visit www.unisys.com/logistics  

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