NEC trials quantum computing technologies in maintenance parts delivery
Feb 16, 2022
2022 is supposed to be the year whereby quantum technologies use cases begin rolling out in some industries. While the adoption of quantum technologies is still picking up its pace, more industry use cases are being developed to realize the full potential quantum computing can bring. Several quantum computing use cases are now actively being trialed by tech vendors and organizations from various industries from healthcare to battery technology. Universities and research institutes around the world are also developing more use cases with tech vendors with the hope of rolling out more trials in the near future. In Japan, NEC Corporation has begun demonstrating tests using quantum computing technology to improve the delivery efficiency of maintenance parts from NEC Fielding, Ltd., a leading provider of maintenance services for ICT equipment. Quantum computing technologies will be used to formulate delivery plans for maintenance parts in line with customer engineers’ (CE) dispatch plans, especially with onsite repair work due and equipment failure requiring urgent attention. According to NEC, based on past data on parts delivery in the Tokyo metropolitan area, it has been calculated that delivery costs can be reduced by approximately 30% by reducing the number of delivery vehicles and shortening travel distances. Going forward, both companies will continue with verification tests aiming for future on-site applications. Currently, NEC Fielding provides maintenance services in which CE visits customer sites for repair work in the event of a breakdown in ICT equipment and non-ICT equipment manufactured by NEC or other companies. There are several hundred maintenance operations each day in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and parts are delivered from parts centers in accordance with the dispatch plans prepared based on CE’s skills and arrival times, taking into account traffic conditions. However, in addition to various orders, such as emergency responses, periodic maintenance, and requests for specific times, there is an enormous combination of delivery variables, such as delivery areas, part types and sizes, truck and motorcycle use, and the number of people who can formulate an efficient delivery plan is limited. And this is where quantum technologies might be able to help. The tests are utilizing the NEC Vector Annealing Service that provides ultra-high-speed processing of large-scale combination problems, NEC and NEC Fielding aim to reduce costs and CO2 by improving delivery efficiency and eliminating the need for personnel to formulate delivery plans. The companies are expected to begin demonstration tests by applying quantum computing technology to some on-site maintenance services and aim to continue improving the accuracy of delivery plans while verifying operational aspects in preparation for full-scale introduction next fiscal year. Apart from this use case, NEC also plans to develop solutions for complex social issues . These include optimizing production plans and improving the accuracy of machine learning in the financial domain, as attention becomes more focused on quantum computing, which is expected to enable high-speed solutions to problems that could not be solved in the past. Beginning with this initiative, NEC will promote the use of quantitative computing by companies and universities as part of helping to solve social issues.