Picture yourself sitting in a crowded city bus at rush hour on one of the hottest days of the year. All the passengers are sweating profusely, everything is sticky, children are crying, passengers are losing their temper, and tolerance for the poor apologetic driver is almost non-existent. This is what it can look like if the air conditioning does not work properly.

Christonik ApS creates an IoT solution for ongoing HVAC system monitoring

Christonik ApS specializes in maintaining, repairing, and updating air conditioning and HVAC systems, including those found on electric buses. Christonik ApS came up with the idea for a solution, that can identify and reveal flaws when the HVAC system is not operating at full capacity. Unfortunately, the company lacked the finances and resources necessary to carry out the project on its own.

Christonik ApS, therefore, applied for funds for an Innobooster project that is co-financed by Innovation Fund Denmark. The project entails creating an IoT solution that is integrated into the buses' HVAC systems. It enables continuous maintenance checks of the condition of the A/C systems.

According to Anders Jacob Madsen, development manager at Christonik ApS, "The HVAC system is a separate unit with limited monitoring and communication function with the rest of the bus, therefore there is very little information on the condition of the HVAC system."

The environment and economy benefit from optimised maintenance inspection

HVAC systems are functionally inspected every year, but if a component breaks soon after the inspection, it may take some time before anybody notices a problem.

The range of electric buses is significantly impacted by a malfunctioning HVAC system.

"Too much energy is being used to cool the bus down while the HVAC system is not operating at full capacity. In addition, the bus company will be fined if a passenger complains about the heat, and the bus must be taken out of service and checked. Our solution can help to prevent this issue” Anders Jacob Madsen / Christonik ApS

The bus companies are obliged to maintain a temperature of 18-26 degrees in the buses. The IoT solution from Christonik ApS uses the temperature of the pipes as a gauge for system pressure. The temperature readings on all buses can be checked by Christonik ApS from their central office. As soon as there is a temperature differential over time, the system will detect a fault in the HVAC system.

"There can be a variety of problems, such as clogged or leaky pipes in the HVAC system, which results in a loss of refrigerant and costs money to replace. Each bus can use up to 15 kg of refrigerant, and 1 kg of the most prevalent refrigerant is comparable to a load of 1774 kg CO2, which can have a significant negative influence on the environment" Anders Jacob Madsen explains.

The IoT solution is a cost-saving implementation both for the bus company and for Christonik ApS as a service company.

"Knowing what the HVAC system's issue is in advance will help us prepare the necessary replacement parts from the outset. Additionally, since we can both trace the problem back to its source and fix it at the same service, the driver only needs to make one trip to the workshop" Anders Jacob Madsen explains.

Innoboosters' importance for the IoT development project

Christonik ApS received assistance with formulating the project content and writing an application from FORCE Technology via the Inoobooster. Additionally, FORCE Technology contributed to the conceptualization of the project and the creation of a prototype via data analyses. The new solution must be tested on buses, so that drivers can see how well the HVAC systems perform in terms of operating circumstances, environmental emissions, and the potential for predicting system defects.

"Being a smaller company, we are unable to fund such a development project. We were given a chance by Innobooster, received funds to get going, and when the board of directors saw the significance of the project and recognised a large economic prospect, they developed an interest in further development. It is revolutionary and inventive for this sector" explains Anders Jacob Madsen.

“We believe this system offers great potential, and we hope to eventually establish service companies in several countries, such as Southern Europe, where the need for properly operating HVAC systems in buses is particularly high during the summer months due to the region's extremely high temperatures. We also see the prospect of selling our IoT solution to other service companies” ends Anders Jacob Madsen, development manager at Christonik ApS.

Air conditioning
Christonik have developed an IoT solution that can assess how electric buses air conditioning systems is performing.