I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however can present you with few hints.
For all those automation systems to function, you have to first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. Whenever you do so, you should specify the motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day have in mind the number and types of motors and actuators you 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 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 other devices if required. The main reason 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 according to system complexity.
Most PLC hardware is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you have the CPU the master brain which can be supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor may have servo card in order 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 exercise you IO devices list, then get the necessary software and hardware needed. You will need additional hardware necessary for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation an internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s that the guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ according to different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start can be to develop existing machines so that you can learn the basics. Go get a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the market industry has to offer. I suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. They likewise have a totally free automation web based course that will educate you on the infant steps needed.
You need to be capable of design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need extra training around the more knowledge about every piece of kit, on how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not brain surgery, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel about this every other engineer. The most crucial facet of control system design is usually to view the process you are likely to control and the goals you want to achieve.