Tech company uses quantum computers to help shipping and trucking industries

Ed Heinbockel, president and chief executive officer of SavantX, said he’s excited about how a powerful new generation of quantum computers can bring practical solutions to industries such as trucking and cargo transport.

“With quantum computing, I’m very keen on this, because I’m a firm believer that it’s a step change technology,” Heinbockel said. “It’s going to rewrite the way that we live and the way we work.”

Heinbockel referred to recent breakthroughs such as Google’s “quantum supremacy,” a demonstration where a programmable quantum processor solved a problem that no classical computer could feasibly solve.

In October 2019, Google’s quantum processor, named Sycamore, performed a computation in “200 seconds” that would have taken the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to solve, according to Google.

Jackson, Wyoming-based SavantX also recently formed a partnership with D-Wave Systems Inc., a Burnaby, Canada-based company that develops and offers quantum computing systems, software and services.

With D-Wave’s quantum services, SavantX has begun offering its Hyper Optimization Nodal Efficiency (HONE) technology to solve optimization problems to customers such as the Pier 300 container terminal project at the Port of Los Angeles.

The project, which began last year, is a partnership between SavantX, Blume Global and Fenix Marine Services. The project’s goal is to optimize logistics on the spacing and placement of shipping containers to better integrate with inbound trucks and freight trains. The Pier 300 site handles 1.2 million container lifts per year. 

“With Pier 300, when do you need trucks at the pier and when and how do you get them scheduled optimally?,” Heinbockel said. “So the appointing part of it is very important and that is a facet of HONE technology.”

Heinbockel added, “We’re very excited about the Pier 300 project, because HONE is a generalized technology. Then it’s a question of what other systems can we optimize? In all modes of transportation, the winners are going to be those that can minimize the energy in the systems; energy reduction. That’s all about optimization.”

Heinbockel co-founded SavantX in 2015 with David Ostby, the company’s chief science officer. SavantX offers data collection and visualization tools for industries ranging from healthcare to nuclear energy to transportation.

Heinbockel also recently announced SavantX will be relocating its corporate research headquarters to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The new center, which could eventually include 100 employees, will be focused on the company’s HONE technology and customizing it for individual clients.

Heinbockel said SavantX has been talking to trucking, transportation and aviation companies about how HONE can help solve issues such as driver retention and optimizing schedules.

“One of the problems I’ve been hearing consistently from trucking companies is that they hire somebody. The HR department tells the new employee ‘we’ll have you home every Thursday night,” Heinbockel said. “Then you get onto a Friday night or Saturday, and [the driver] is still not home.” 

Heinbockel said if quantum computing and HONE can be used to help trucking companies with driver retention, and “that it will make a lot of companies happy.”

Heinbockel said cross-border operations could use HONE to understand what the flow patterns are like for commercial trucks crossing through different ports at various times of the day. 

“You would optimize your trucking flow based on when those lax periods were at those various ports, or you could ask yourself, is it cheaper for me to send a truck 100 miles out of the way to another port, knowing that it can get right through that port without having to sit for two or three hours in queue,” Heinbockel said.