About the Client
The Client is a UK-based manufacturer and retailer of luxury consumer goods. They have a long history of offering excellent quality products that delight consumers across multiple continents.
- The capability to produce multiple business-relevant simulations concurrently
- A more holistic approach to simulations thanks to the possibility of adding extra dimensions to the optimisation problem
- Significant calculation time improvements for every investigated problem
- Proof that today’s quantum computing is ready to provide added value to stock planning processes
- A set of recommendations for the future use of quantum technology in the organisation
One of the critical challenges in our Client’s business is the effective use of their stock to satisfy the market demand for their products. They’re currently using a commercially available optimisation solver for production planning to accomplish this goal. The optimiser creates a stock utilisation plan using a dataset comprising product variants, production schedules, and stock lines.
For these simulations to offer business value, they need to consider a vast number of variables and parameters. They can only generate meaningful and accurate results with access to real-life production data. With that in mind, the Client continuously looks for technologies and approaches to improve their stock and production modelling simulations.
As their technology partner, Objectivity proposed a pilot project to validate the feasibility of quantum computers for their stock optimisation and production planning processes. Working alongside the Client’s data specialists, Objectivity provided the necessary quantum know-how and software engineering capability.
The pilot project aimed to explore how well the current generation of quantum computers will perform with regard to the Client’s stock and production optimisation problem. The challenge at its core is a complex optimisation problem, which makes it a good fit for quantum technology. To validate the capabilities of quantum computing, the team decided to feed the same production data to both the original and the quantum solver. The results were then compared with total production yield as the crucial success metric.
Two brands in the Client’s portfolio were selected for this project. Let’s call them A and B. Brand A was significantly smaller, with a dataset of approximately 120,000 variables. Brand B was much larger, with 3.8 million variables.
For brand A, the quantum-based solution executed the operation 6 times faster, producing 52 scenarios with optimal production yield in a single run. This gave the Client the added value of comparing multiple optimal scenarios in their decision-making process, which wasn’t possible with the traditional solver.
Brand B was far more challenging. However, the new generation of quantum devices outperformed expectations. While performing the equivalent calculations 28 times faster, the quantum computer produced a single scenario with a yield reduction within 1% and 27 other business-relevant scenarios with a marginally lower yield. This, once again, allowed the Client to compare these options and decide whether, for example, a slight reduction in production can be beneficial when significantly decreasing stock utilisation costs.
|Dataset||Reference solver execution time||Quantum solutions execution 4time||Scenarios generated||Optimal solution yield decrease|
|Brand A||33 seonds||<5 seconds||52||0.0%|
|Brand B||230 minutes||8 minutes||27||-1.0%|
In addition to validating today’s quantum computers using real-life data, the Client received a detailed report and summary of the pilot project. These documents contain in-depth descriptions of the project, the performance of D-Wave’s quantum computer on each problem and a general evaluation of the present day’s quantum hardware. Objectivity also provided recommendations regarding how quantum computing can further improve the stock optimisation process and potential other use cases for this technology in the Client’s organisation.
The Client received a clear validation of today’s quantum computers for their stock and production optimisation processes. Thanks to this pilot project, they received proof that this technology can produce tangible business value. The vastly improved calculation speed and quantum devices producing multiple business-relevant scenarios allow quantum to improve production planning.
Quantum computing is a good fit for introducing extra dimensions and parameters to the calculations without any loss of the quality of the output. For example, in addition to optimising the stock yield, the Client can reduce costs by limiting the stock lines used and the number of product variants.
Objectivity provided the resources and competencies to conduct this pilot project and draw actionable conclusions. Furthermore, the prepared report offered insight into the dynamic growth of quantum’s capabilities and recommendations regarding the potential adoption of this technology.
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