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 many automation systems to function, you have to first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. Whenever you do so, you need to specify the sort of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day understand the number and kinds of motors and actuators you will need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each 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(more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to control their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you will want your input devices to be lay out. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as required. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is usually to permit you to define the specifications essential for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up determined by system complexity.
Most PLC hardware comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you have the CPU which is master brain which is 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 exercise you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may need additional hardware required for for fancy touchscreen HMI, line automation and internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s that the guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions varies determined by different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. A good way to start will be to work on existing machines so that you study the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the marketplace is offering. I always suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a free automation web based course that will coach you on 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 simply need some additional training on the information each piece of apparatus, regarding how to program or properly connect them, but it is not brain surgery, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel about this as any other engineer. The main aspect of control system design is to understand the process you are likely to control and the goals you wish to achieve.