Banner-Day Bakery Solutions
Assessment of Existing Burners and Benefits of New Burners
While talking with bakers recently, we realized that, unlike many businesses that are struggling to make ends meet with the “stay at home” restrictions, bakers in many parts of the country are seeing greater demand than usual. During these unusual times it is more important than ever to have the ovens working and performing consistently. At the heart of any oven are the burners and related equipment; allowing the burners to operate at maximum efficiency. 

With this in mind, we felt there is value in highlighting the importance of burners maintenance and challenges that may be facing you. As a part of your oven maintenance plan, it is good practice to check the burners on a regular interval to ensure the burners are functioning properly, providing the optimal heat distribution which ultimately translates into bake quality.
Based on our years of experience we have found that many bakers continue to use the original burners that came with their ovens when they were installed back as early as the 1960s. Considering the age of the burners, we strongly suggest that it may be time to evaluate the thermal side of the oven condition and performance:
  • Condition of burners/lateral heat
  • Internal lateral heat tube condition
  • In today’s environment with the COVID 19 virus the regular challenges are compounded. These challenges vary in degree from baker to baker; however, they are very similar:
  • General reduction in work force
  • Loss of experienced people through retirement
  • Total cost of ownership
  • Nuisance of burners
  • High maintenance
  • Constant spark still in use
Aside from all the general challenges you are facing, our fundamental and basic question is:
Are the burners in your ovens the basis of frustration in the operation of the ovens? If this is true, then consider the following:
  • How long will it take to clean the old burners and air/gas mixers? Is the cost savings of cleaning worth the time when compared to the cost of new replacement burners?
  • Are there select burners near oiling door(s) that are an issue?
  • Do some burners require frequent maintenance when others don’t?
  • Burners are out and not performing on a regular basis?
    • When low fire is needed
    • Burners do not achieve proper turn down ratio
  • New and fewer people compound the problem costing you time and money
  • Bakers reducing SKUs to reduce change over time and frequency
  • Maintenance hours available for maintaining these burners
  • Time ovens are available to do this type of maintenance.

If any of these are a concern, then it is most probably time to make an honest assessment of current burners and the air/gas delivery system to these burners. When this assessment is complete, then you need to determine if some or all the burners need to be replaced. Use this to develop a plan to change out necessary burners or more. In most cases, your plan will be dependent on available funding and time to execute. Based on the conclusion there are basic considerations:
  • Replace burners on a phased available time basis
  • Replace burners on a scheduled set time basis
  • Replace burners all at once
For consideration in this article we are focusing on overlooked or forgotten maintenance activities. Here are key components to consider:
  • Burners
    • Straight burners w/no lateral heat considerations
    • Multi-zone /tri zone with lateral heat adjustments
  • Ignitors
  • Ignition Modules
  • Air Headers
  • Air/Gas Mixers
  • Air/Gas Mixer Orifices
Burner Functionality – Ribbons
  • Cleaning of combustion air system
  • Combustion air filtration and/or source
  • Cleanliness internal to burners
    • Lateral heat distribution
  • Orifice gas cocks
In order to better plan your maintenance and eventually evaluate the status of the burners and associated components, is recommended that you do regular inspections and periodic assessments. Broadly speaking the two areas for these inspections and assessments are:
  • Mechanical (Motion)
  • Thermal (Heat)

When doing your burner inspection and assessment, what you should be looking for:

  • Flour dust contamination
  • Constant spark systems spark can cause ribbon orifices to weld close, preventing ignition
  • Decline in performance as a result of age and compounded by lack of resources or experience
  • Burner ribbons worn out/destroyed at point of ignition
  • Rust deteriorated beyond proper functioning
  • Worst zones near oiling door where there is graphite build up and contamination

Manipulate oven so it works; but it takes time and experience

  • Patience and experience to work around these situations
  • Generational experience

When you have completed your inspections and conducted an overall thermal assessment, you will no doubt have to make decisions on the following systems and components:

  • Change out burners and keep existing ignition system
  • Upgrade burners and ignition system
  • Upgrade Controls
  • Add Far Side Sensing
  • Replace burners, ignitors, orifice cocks, air/gas mixers
The conclusion is that the performance of your oven is very much dependent on the condition and maintenance of your burner system whether it is a constant spark or direct spark ignition system. Regular inspections and periodic assessment are necessary and appropriate to ensure effective oven operation. Here is an example of a bakery action plan after conducting an inspection and assessment:
  • Zone 4, 16 burners in the zone
  • After considerable effort, six burners would not light
  • Determined that air/gas mixers were contaminated with crusted flour dust
  • Change-out six new burners & ignitors
  • Change-out sixteen new air/gas mixers
These changes and upgrades lead to improved oven performance and consistent product quality for the baker.

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