What is a Burner Management System (BMS)? Its Components & Key functions

Definition: A Burner Management System or BMS is a safety system that ensures the safe start-up, operation, and shutdown of process burners.

The primary purpose of a Burner Management System is the safe and reliable operation of combustion equipment such as boilers, furnaces, and other fuel-fired equipment. Controlling the start, stop, and emergency sequences, a sophisticated BMS system is a crucial component in boiler operation and other combustion systems.

burner management system

The aim of protecting boilers and furnaces through the Burner Management System is to initiate and guarantee that the combustion system is ignited and operated safely. It automatically executes the shutdown of the combustion system if a deviation is generated in any of the process variables that could generate a dangerous condition, putting process equipment and potential harm to personnel or the surrounding environment from the risks.

BMS system helps avoid unplanned shutdowns caused by a failure in a system where shutdowns are a significant cost.

BMS Key functions

key functions of bms

Start-up—It controls the sequence of operations during start-up: purging the combustion chamber of any unburnt or residual gases, igniting the burner, and regulating fuel and air flows. It also monitors temperature and pressure levels and gradually brings it up to operating conditions.

Operation During normal operation, the BMS continuously monitors key parameters such as fuel flow, air-to-fuel ratio, flame stability, and combustion chamber pressure. It adjusts as necessary to maintain efficient and stable combustion.

Fault Detection—The BMS detects faults or malfunctions in the burner systems and takes appropriate action, such as shutting down the burner to prevent damage or hazards.

Emergency Shutdown In case of a critical fault or emergency, such as flame failure or loss in fuel pressure, the BMS initiates an immediate shutdown of the burner to prevent accidents or damage to the equipment.

Safety The Burner Management System or BMS ensures the burner operates within safe parameters, preventing dangerous conditions such as fuel leaks, explosions, or over-pressurization.

Typical components of BMS system

Controller The controller is the central component of the BMS. It receives inputs from various sensors and switches, processes this information, and sends commands to control devices to regulate burner operation.

Flame Detectors Flame detectors are sensors designed to monitor the presence and stability of the flame within a combustion chamber. They detect the ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) radiation emitted by the flame and send signals to the controller to verify the flame’s presence and quality are verified.

Fuel Valves Fuel valves play a critical role in ensuring safety during burner operations and controlling the flow of fuel to the burner. The controller actuates them based on the desired firing rate and safety considerations.

Air Dampers Air dampers regulate the combustion air flow into the burner. They ensure the proper air-to-fuel ratio for efficient and clean combustion. The controller adjusts the position of the dampers as needed based on input from airflow sensors.

Ignition System The ignition system ignites the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber during start-up. It may use spark igniters, pilot flames, or other BMS- controlled ignition methods.

Process Sensors Pressure and temperature sensors monitor conditions within the combustion chamber and flue gas system. They provide feedback to the controller to ensure safety features that initiate immediate emergency stop buttons, pressure relief valves, or other safety devices.

Control Panel HMI The control panel houses the controller, interface components, and other electrical equipment needed to operate the BMS. It may also include indicators, switches, and displays for manual control and monitoring.

The start-up sequence in a Burner Management System

The BMS systems involve a series of safely and efficiently initiating the operation of combustion equipment such as boilers, furnaces, or incinerators. While specific start-up sequences may vary depending on the type of equipment and the BMS configuration, here is a general outline of the typical start-up sequence in a BMS system

start up sequence of  burner management system

Pre-Start-up Checks

Before starting the combustion equipment, operators perform pre-start-up checks to ensure all necessary safety precautions are in place. This may include inspecting fuel supply lines, verifying the availability of the combustion air, checking for leaks or blockages, and ensuring that all safety devices are functioning properly.


The start-up sequence typically begins with a purge cycle to remove residual gases from the combustion chamber and ensure a safe starting environment. During the purge cycle, the combustion air fan or blower is activated to flush out the combustion chamber with fresh air. The duration of the purge cycle depends on factors such as the size of the combustion chamber and the type of fuel being used.


The ignition begins once the purge cycle is complete and the combustion chamber is clear of gases. The ignition system, which may consist of spark igniters, pilot flames, or other ignition devices, is activated to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. The ignition sequence is closely monitored to ensure the flame is established safely and reliably.

Fuel Ramp-up

After ignition, the fuel supply is gradually increased to bring the combustion equipment up to the desired firing rate. The fuel ramp-up process may involve modulating the fuel valve or adjusting the fuel flow rate in stages to prevent sudden changes in combustion conditions and ensure stable operation.

Combustion Monitoring

Throughout the start-up sequence, the burner management system continuously monitors key parameters such as flame stability, combustion chamber pressure, temperature, and exhaust gas composition. Operators used this real-time data to assess the performance of the combustion equipment and make adjustments needed to optimize combustion efficiency and safety.

BMS Control

Air and Fuel Control

The BMS regulates the flow of air and fuel in the combustion chamber to ensure optimal combustion conditions and optimize efficiency. This may involve adjusting the positions of air dampers and fuel valves based on feedback from various sensors that monitor parameters such as oxygen levels, combustion chamber pressure, and exhaust gas composition.

Flame Monitoring and Control

The BMS continuously monitors the presence and stability of the flame using flame detectors and other sensors. If the flame goes out unexpectedly or becomes unstable, the BMS initiates corrective actions such as re-ignition or emergency shutdown to prevent hazardous conditions such as fuel build-up or uncontrolled combustion.

Fault Detection and Diagnostics

The BMS includes features for detecting faults or malfunctions in the combustion equipment and related systems. This may involve monitoring sensor readings for anomalies, performing self-tests and diagnostics, and generating alerts or alarms when abnormalities are detected. Operators can use this information to troubleshoot issues and take corrective action.

Role of Safety Instrumented System (SIS) and Burner Management System (BMS)

While both (SIS) and (BMS) serve safety functions in industrial processes, they are distinct systems with different purposes and functionalities.

A Safety Instrumented System (SIS) is a specialized control system that provides safety-critical functions, such as emergency shutdown, overpressure protection, or fire and gas detection. SIS systems are typically implemented to mitigate the risk of catastrophic events in process industries such as oil and gas, chemical manufacturing, or power generation.

On the other hand, a Burner Management System is specifically designed for the safe and efficient operation of combustion equipment, such as boilers, furnaces, or incinerators. BMS systems control the burner’s start-up, operation, and shutdown, ensuring safe operating conditions and compliance with safety standards and regulations.

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