I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, on the other hand can provide few hints.
For many automation systems to function, you must first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan wonderful details finalized. Once you accomplish that, you must specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This allows you to be aware of number and types of motors and actuators you 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(more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to manage their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you will want your input devices being set out. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and also other devices as required. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine would be to allow you to 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 there is a CPU which is master brain that’s supplemented with I/O device that can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor will 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 figure out you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may want additional hardware needed for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation and internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s how a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions may differ based on different manufacturer offering particularly if use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start will be to focus on existing machines so that you learn the basics. Go have a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the marketplace has to offer. It’s my job to suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a free automation online course which will teach you the infant steps needed.
You should be in a position to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you simply need some additional training about the information each piece of it technology, on the way to program or properly connect them, yet it’s not nuclear physics, a great mechanical engineer should probably excel with this because other engineer. The key aspect of control system design is usually to see the process you will control as well as the goals you need to achieve.