Logistics Takes the Leap

Utilizing Quantum-Powered Solutions for Enhanced Planning and Resource Allocation

5 min readFeb 28, 2024

By: Kartik Dixit, Lead, Technical Delivery, Customer Applications at D-Wave

Logistics forms the backbone of business, yet achieving logistical excellence is a complex juggling act, riddled with unpredictable challenges and demanding expectations from customers and employees alike. Businesses are struggling to balance efficiency and sustainability needs with costs in the face of variables like workforce turnover, vehicle capacities, employee availability and maintenance requirements.

This series explores how D-Wave is transforming logistics operations with quantum-powered solutions to address critical pain points such as:

  • Resource planning and scheduling
  • Labor allocation
  • Route optimization

A Leap in Operational Excellence

The logistics landscape — a complex web of time, resources, and variables — demands systems that bring clarity and agility. Effective resource planning and labor allocation can be a linchpin, demanding a blend of precision, adaptability, and strategic foresight.

It’s not a simple process of mapping out each worker’s weekly availability. The system also needs to account for parameters such as:

  • Resource availability
  • Maintenance schedules
  • Preferred work locations
  • The number of personnel needed on each shift
  • The timeliness of certain operational deliverables with allowance for last-minute disruptions

Why Quantum for Logistics?

The digital revolution, marked by Industry 4.0, heralds significant shifts in logistics. Long-standing inefficiencies call for a new era of optimization. Unlike traditional brute-force methods, quantum solutions offer precision and speed, empowering businesses to adapt swiftly to changing conditions and optimize workforce distribution, enhancing cost-competitiveness while preserving service quality.

Annealing quantum computing offers a novel computational approach that can outpace classical methods. By tapping quantum effects, annealing quantum computers swiftly navigate intricate logistics problems, enabling data-driven decisions and reducing time-to-solution.

Learn more about D-Wave’s annealing quantum technology.

How Logistics Leaders Today Are Realizing Tangible Outcomes with Annealing Quantum

Efficient resource allocation and optimization pose challenges for many organizations due to a diverse array of allocation-related issues. The most significant challenge is finding and utilizing resources to achieve specific objectives while maximizing gains and minimizing losses within defined constraints.

The transformative impact of quantum solutions is not merely theoretical but is quickly finding its footing in the logistics world today.

The Pattison Food Group: 80%-time savings

As online orders surged during the 2020 pandemic, straining logistical systems, the importance of efficient organizational structures became paramount to ensure timely delivery of essentials like prescriptions and groceries. The Pattison Food Group (PFG), western Canada’s leading distributor of food and healthcare products, recognized the need to optimize delivery driver coordination. Previously, scheduling for drivers across provinces was a manual, labor-intensive process, taking around 80 hours weekly to complete.

Learn how Pattison Food Group optimized e-commerce logistics.

PFG leaned on D-Wave’s quantum computing to automate driver scheduling, initially at the store level, and later expanding to the entire driver fleet. The complexity of this task was significant, involving various constraints like drivers’ store preferences, shift needs, mandatory rest periods and other factors. By mathematically formulating these challenges and integrating them into a computational pipeline, PFG developed an effective auto-scheduling solution on the D-Wave platform. This system could assign weekly work schedules, adhering to all specified constraints and aiming to maximize shift allocations according to each driver’s preferences and availability.

The implementation of this annealing quantum-based auto-scheduler has led to significant improvements in efficiency and operational effectiveness. The system has not only reduced the scheduling task from 80 to 15 hours per week, achieving an 80% time-cost saving, but it has also consistently met over 95% of e-commerce demand and fulfilled driver expectations in terms of scheduling.

SavantX and Port of Los Angeles Pier 300: Increased crane deliveries by 60%

The Port of Los Angeles took on a strategic initiative to enhance its operational efficiency, addressing the costly time delays in the container transfer process from ships to trucks. Recognizing the potential of quantum computing to solve complex logistical challenges, the port collaborated with SavantX which utilized D-Wave’s quantum system to optimize terminal operations at Pier 300. The project led to the development of a detailed ‘digital twin’ simulation which provided valuable data from numerous cargo-handling scenarios to identify and implement optimization strategies.

Learn how the Port of Los Angeles dramatically streamlined operations.

A significant challenge was the inefficient cargo-to-truck transfer due to the random stacking of containers. The traditional approach of employing more RTG (Rubber-tired Gantry) cranes was not viable due to high costs and labor requirements. Instead, SavantX innovated a truck scheduling system based on crane availability, aligning truck arrivals with crane operations. This optimization became increasingly complex with the addition of more trucks, highlighting the superiority of D-Wave’s quantum computing system over classical computing, especially in scenarios involving more than four trucks per RTG crane. The quantum system efficiently handled these complex scenarios, demonstrating its robust computational power.

The implementation led to remarkable operational improvements at Pier 300. The use of RTG cranes for unloading was reduced by nearly 40%, their average travel distance decreased significantly, and the number of deliveries per crane per day increased by over 60%.

The strategic use of quantum computing in optimizing port operations not only achieved significant efficiency gains but also contributed to a substantial increase in Pier 300’s value, which tripled by 2021. This initiative points to the transformative potential of quantum computing in complex optimization challenges, offering significant value addition and operational benefits.

“We’ve tasted the power of quantum, and we’re very, very excited about it.” — Ed Heinbockel, CEO, SavantX

Quantum-powered solutions are redefining logistics today, transforming logistics challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. Whether it’s reducing overhead and diverting people power to other priorities or achieving higher operational efficiency, D-Wave can help solve your most challenging logistics problems.

Discover how our cutting-edge quantum solutions can address your most pressing logistics challenges. Schedule a free demo of Leap, our cloud-based quantum computing service, and step onto your journey to operational excellence.

Watch how D-Wave can unlock the power of practical quantum computing for your organization.

Gain access to our e-book and explore how quantum computing can transform supply chain and logistics management.

About D-Wave Quantum Inc.

D-Wave is a leader in the development and delivery of quantum computing systems, software, and services, and is the world’s first commercial supplier of quantum computers. Our mission is to unlock the power of quantum computing today to benefit business and society. We do this by delivering customer value with practical quantum applications for problems as diverse as logistics, artificial intelligence, materials sciences, drug discovery, scheduling, cybersecurity, fault detection, and financial modeling.

Discover more on D-Wave’s website.