I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, however can provide few hints.
For all those automation systems to be effective, you need to first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan wonderful details finalized. Whenever you achieve this, you should 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 every motors you may want relay contactors (for single speed discrete/on-off type motors like blower fans and liquid pumps), VFD for speed controllable ac 3-phase motors(much more conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to manage their precise movement.
These are your output devices, you will need your input devices to get put down. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices as required. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine is usually 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 there is a CPU the actual master brain which is supplemented with I/O device that could be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor could 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 work out you IO devices list, then get the necessary hardware and software needed. You might need additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation an internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions may vary according to different manufacturer offering specifically if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start can be to work on existing machines so that you learn the basics. Then go have a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the market provides. I always suggest website visitors to go through Omron catalogues. They also have a no cost automation online course that will coach you on the child steps needed.
You ought to be capable to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps all you need is extra training about the details of every piece of it technology, on the way to program or properly connect them, however it is not nuclear physics, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel with this just like any other engineer. The most crucial element of control system design would be to see the process you’re going to control along with the goals you wish to achieve.