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Understanding the Power of BMS Controls

Tip Sheet: October 2013

Key Facts

  • A burner management system (BMS) controls every aspect of a burner to ensure proper sequencing and safety
  • An advanced BMS reports on multiple aspects of boiler control, including: fuel usage and hours of use, boiler efficiency and stack temperature
  • An advanced control system prevents a boiler operator from having to open the burner every time an alarm sounds

With an advanced control system such as the Cleaver-Brooks Hawk, the HMI display provides alarm details to troubleshoot issues quickly.



A burner management system (BMS) controls every aspect of a burner to ensure proper sequencing and safety. It protects against the malfunction of fuel-firing equipment and reduces possible errors by following the proper operating procedure.   

The BMS is designed to prevent firing unless a satisfactory furnace purge is completed. It will also delay equipment start-up if certain permissive interlocks do not take place. After meeting these criteria, the BMS sequences the burner through its different stages from pre-purge, lighting the pilot flame through the main flame light-off.   

The BMS conditionally allows the continued operation of the equipment only while certain safety interlocks remain satisfied. Regular maintenance and inspection of the system and its associated hardware is essential for continued safe operation. Equipment safety is important to avoid equipment loss, personnel injury and production downtime as a result of an accident.   


With the advancement of microprocessor technology, programmable systems have become the preferred management design. These controls enable a boiler room manager to collect and analyze essential data while maximizing production and maintaining environmental compliance.   


Not only are advanced control systems superior from the standpoint of the volume of data they provide, but they prevent a boiler operator from having to open the burner door to troubleshoot a problem. Every time the burner door is opened, compliance with NFPA 70E arc flash requirements could be necessary.  


A traditional BMS sounds a general alarm, so in the past, a boiler operator would have to open the door to assess the problem. With an advanced control system such as Cleaver-Brooks Hawk, the control panel’s touch-screen HMI mounted in the front door displays individual alarms as they occur and provides details about the problem.   


For example, issues such as high/low main fuel gas pressure or combustion air pressure will sound an alarm. These types of problems will independently appear on the display of an advanced control system’s HMI; however, a standard burner management system does not provide this type of data without additional expanded modules mounted and wired directly on the BMS control. A boiler operator can install additional flow meters to be monitored with an advanced control system that is not available with a BMS controller alone, thus requiring an additional independent control to monitor and display this information. The advantage of an advanced control system is that it ties all of this equipment into one package and displays it on one screen instead of having multiple devices to accomplish the same thing.   

Today, most facilities are focused on increasing efficiency and decreasing fuel costs and want to review reports on a regular basis to detect trends. The power of an advanced burner control system is that it can manage and report on multiple aspects of a boiler control such as fuel usage and hours of use, stack temperature, lead-lag sequencing, boiler efficiency, temperature/pressure and much more.