Property Management Success: How AI Enhances Industrial

Property Management Success: How AI Enhances Industrial


In the vast array of technology solutions that industrial property managers have at their disposal, the most powerful and promising of the bunch is artificial intelligence. The use of AI models comes by way of their ability to serve as invaluable assistants to property managers, from marketing and leasing spaces to assisting with maintenance and repairs, saving them a great deal of time to focus on assisting tenants at a higher, more personal level.

AI in industrial: Predictive potential

For industrial property managers, the most longstanding uses of automation technology to enhance value are predictive analytics models, which aggregate data across properties and portfolios to inform decision making. Such technologies have uses from monitoring and informing improvements to a building’s infrastructure to enhancing decisions around tenant space needs. The advantages of such technologies lie in their ability to influence decisions in a manner far quicker through information than that of a human manually combing through raw data.

Meaghan Elwell, President of the industrials division, JLL Work Dynamics. Image courtesy of JLL Work Dynamics

On the maintenance end, this translates to monitoring the health and performance of mission-critical manufacturing, electrical, data storage and HVAC equipment, with the goal of getting ahead of both predictable and unforeseen problems. “The more we can leverage (artificial) intelligence to get ahead of any problems and monitor the infrastructure in a building, the more effectively we can deploy our human resources to use their time most efficiently in getting to the sources of the issues,” detailed Meaghan Elwell, president of the industrials division at JLL Work Dynamics.

Here, the game is a matter of size, given the firm’s management portfolio. “Think about any industrial manufacturing facility, distribution center or fulfillment center. That is a lot of ground to cover for any facility manager or technician, and they can’t be in every place at once, no matter how many you have. You can triple the square footage without tripling the people” Elwell explained.

Scaled up to the portfolio level, such priorities are indeed resource-intensive. “These seem like basic things, but when you are managing 3,500 properties across 10,000 customers, you have to be able to do that with data and inform your employees to be proactive,” noted Clark Ardern, chief technology officer at Link Logistics. Such ideas inform JLL Work Dynamics’ use of platforms such as Corrigo, a work order filing software that combines internet-of-things-connected sensors that monitor the performance of equipment in real time with automated data collection. Another technology whose use is informed by this philosophy is Hank, which creates 3D digital twins of properties that fully audit the workings of a building in order to inform maintenance decisions.

Clark Ardern, Chief Technology Officer, Link Logistics. Image courtesy of Link Logistics

Prologis combined its IoT-connected building management system with automation, and integrated both into the enterprise resource planning software that property managers use. “This platform encompasses reactive maintenance, equipment management, virtual document management, cost management and reporting, and data visualization all in one,” detailed Sineesh Keshav, the firm’s chief technology officer. Highlights include a pumproom management solution that is able to predict leaks before they happen, as well as a carbon data management system that helps further sustainability goals.

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Outside of the service-centric nature of property management, predictive models assist property managers with the business end. Link Logistics uses a proprietary platform to collect information both from its properties and publicly available data. With such information, personnel can make informed decisions about facilities and capital improvements, or even if the property is still worth owning. “(They can be) things as basic as weather, but also economic data points that we can pull in to help us understand where to buy, when to buy, when to sell and how to position our spaces so that customers can be most effective in their businesses,” Ardern told Commercial Property Executive.

Generating value

Sineesh Keshav, Chief Technology Officer, Prologis. Image courtesy of Prologis

In contrast to its forward-looking sibling, generative AI, which uses data to actively synthesize information, has seen a more recent, yet explosive emergence into property management. The most immediate beneficiary is lease administration, which Ardern refers to as the “bugaboo of owner-operators.” Generative AI aggregates the data, but differs by way of its ability to generate the documents on its own. On the development end, Link created a proprietary platform that extracts the information from unorganized content, with the goal of training a language-processing model to function as a human would.

The advantage of such technology? “(It) gets smarter and learns every time it abstracts a new lease,” Elwell detailed. For Prologis, which uses AI-based document generation, “what used to take several days and weeks to get a lease into our operational system now takes several minutes,” Keshav observed. Of course, the personnel still play a role in auditing the abstractions and information.

For its part, Link Logistics plans to train a language-processing model to “interrogate the information in a human interaction kind of way,” one that allows customers and employees alike to “get data points faster, easier and smoother,” according to Ardern.

Other areas where generative AI generates value is in equipment operations, bringing complex manufacturing, HVAC and storage solutions online quicker. “Every piece of equipment comes with an information packet. The more we can leverage machine learning to quickly digest all of that information, the more we can plug it into the technology that our engineers are using, so that they have it top of mind, right at their fingertips,” Elwell detailed.

The ability to quickly and (most of the time) accurately create content also has vast marketing potential. Prologis is experimenting with using AI to generate marketing collateral. JLL has developed a proprietary GPT model called JLLGPT, that it uses from “writing great LinkedIn posts to leveraging abstractions of leases,” according to Elwell.

Down the road, Keshav foresees propensity to buy models and space planning simulations as “fascinating applications,” that need to be further refined to see widespread adoption.

The ultimate assistant

In light of all these use cases, it may be tempting to adopt the latest GPT model or predictive analytics software, especially given the speed of their adoption by the market. “When you think about when the PC was introduced, it took 20 years to really impact productivity and operations. With mobile and cloud (technology) it was even shorter, and with AI it is going to be even shorter than that,” Ardern said.

But property managers would do well to consider the technology in the context of how humans themselves will use these models. “We can leverage AI to help us be smarter, but we can never want to replace the deep experience, skillset and knowledge of the people who are managing the equipment and these buildings,” Elwell cautioned.

Keshav agrees, and sees the time-saving aspects as the primary motivator. By saving our frontline employees’ time by automating repeatable tasks with technology and AI, we help them spend more time with our customers and other stakeholders,” he told CPE.


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