I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, on the other hand can give you few hints.
For all automation systems to work, you must first possess a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all details finalized. Whenever you achieve this, you have to specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you have in mind the number and kinds of motors and actuators you will need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each motors you might need relay contactors (for single speed discrete/on-off type motors like blower fans and liquid pumps), VFD for speed controllable ac 3-phase motors(a lot more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to regulate their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you will need your input devices to become determined. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices when needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is to let you define the specifications required for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up depending on system complexity.
Most PLC hardware comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you have the CPU the master brain that’s supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor may have servo card to connect with servo driver, communication bus cards like CAN-BUS, PROFIBUS and DEVICENET and sensor cards for special sensors like RTD temperature sensors and level sensors.
So workout you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You might need additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation and online diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s how a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ determined by different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start may be to develop existing machines so that you can learn the basics. Then go get a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the marketplace has to offer. I always suggest people to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a no cost automation online course which will show you the infant steps needed.
You ought to be in a position to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need to additional training around the more knowledge about every bit of apparatus, regarding how to program or properly connect them, yet it’s not rocket science, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel with this every other engineer. The key aspect of control system design is always to comprehend the process you’re going to control and the goals you want to achieve.