I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, however can provide you with few hints.
For all those automation systems to be effective, you have to first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. When you achieve this, you should specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you be aware of number and types of motors and actuators you may need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each and every 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 control their precise movement.
These are generally your output devices, you’ll need your input devices being lay out. This is level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as required. The reason i’m stating out this routine would be to permit you to define the specifications essential for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up based on system complexity.
Most PLC hardware is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically there is an CPU the master brain which can be supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor may have servo card to get in touch 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 exercise you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You will need additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation an internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s the way a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions varies based on different manufacturer offering specifically if you use beckhoff based systems. A sensible way to start may be to work on existing machines so that you study the basics. Go get yourself a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the market provides. I suggest people to go through Omron catalogues. They also have a totally free automation web based course which will teach you the infant steps needed.
You have to be able to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need extra training on the more knowledge about every piece of equipment, regarding how to program or properly connect them, however it is not too difficult, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel on this as any other engineer. The key aspect of control system design is to see the process you’re going to control and the goals you need to achieve.