Quantum Computing: Industrial Opportunities

The newest McKinsey Tech Trends 2022 The Outlook report notes that the biggest uncertainty for quantum technologies is the timeframe in which error-corrected quantum computers will be developed.

Despite research advances in recent years, McKinsey’s research reports that quantum technologies are still emerging and have received less attention than more mature technologies. But despite these challenges, the study shows a number of plausible benefits that could be achieved if error rates could be reduced.

Rodney Zemmel, senior partner at McKinsey and global leader at McKinsey Digital, said, “Quantum computing doesn’t make sense for every business, but the range of potential applications we’ve seen is broad, from biopharma to automotive and, of course, telecom and financial services .”

Although the technology may still be many years away, so-called quantum-inspired algorithms can now be used in applications such as process optimization.

According to Microsoft, optimization is a class of computing problems that can be executed primarily on quantum computers in the future and offer a quantum advantage over classical computing.

“Applying quantum-inspired optimization to real-world problems can provide companies with new insights or help reduce costs by making their processes more efficient,” the company said on its Azure Quantum website for simulating quantum algorithms in the Azure public cloud.

The manufacturer Bosch is one of the organizations dealing with quantum computing today. The Bosch Automotive Electronics plant in Madrid has started collaborating with quantum computing specialists Multiverse Computing to use quantum technology to optimize manufacturing processes.

The manufacturer collects huge amounts of sensor data from the machines at the Madrid plant and hopes that Multiverse’s experience in applying quantum computing optimizations in the financial sector can be adapted for industrial applications.

Carlos Conde, technical vice president of the Bosch plant in Madrid, said: “The collaboration with Multiverse is focused on improving the productivity and competitiveness of our plant through exploring the use of quantum and quantum-inspired machine learning tools aligned to our global are smart factory strategy. We have great expectations for the results of algorithm development using our big data and for the dissemination of this knowledge within the Bosch organization.”

Recent Industry 4.0 efforts at Bosch’s 240 plants have seen the manufacturer deploy 120,000 connected machines and more than 250,000 devices. Conde said that by understanding all of the data coming from these connected devices, we “use that information to improve operations at the Madrid plant, like: B. Performance, quality and maintenance schedules”. The company believes this analysis could increase productivity by up to 25%.

Bosch expects results later this year from the current phase, which includes the development and implementation of custom quantum and quantum-inspired algorithms at the Madrid facility. If successful, there is potential to integrate quantum optimizations into production environments across all Bosch manufacturing facilities. “At Bosch, we have the freedom to improve our factory,” said Conde.

If all goes as promised and the company spots a good opportunity to deploy quantum algorithms, a production deployment in Madrid will follow, paving the way for a wider rollout across the group’s 250 manufacturing sites.

BASF is another manufacturer that has worked on optimization with multiverse computing. This time, however, the chemical company is not relying on multiverse computing to improve industrial processes. Instead, it hopes that the quantum algorithms will improve its foreign exchange (forex) transactions.

“Quantum computing is a promising area that has been developing rapidly in recent years,” said Abhishek Awasthi, a member of BASF’s next-generation computing team who worked with Multiverse on the project. “Multiverse has a strong focus and expertise in quantum computing in the financial industry and BASF wanted to start a joint project to explore what we can do together. From our discussions with Multiverse, we believe they can offer a significant advantage in terms of forex transaction optimization.”

In the initial phase, the project focuses on trading between the euro and the US dollar. As previously reported by Computer Weekly, BASF has also started a collaboration with quantum algorithm developer Pasqual to use proprietary algorithms to predict weather patterns to support its digital farming business.

Beyond optimization, Multiverse Computing recently co-authored a paper discussing the use of quantum-based machine vision in industrial applications to detect manufacturing defects. Based on tests with 546 sample images, the paper describes the benchmarking of quantum machine vision algorithms on two noisy medium-sized quantum computers (Nisq).

“Our results show that quantum machine learning has a bright future when applied to real-world problems and particularly to computer vision tasks,” the paper’s authors wrote.

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