I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, however i can provide you with few hints.
For those automation systems to be effective, you have to first possess a clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. If you achieve this, you must specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day have in mind the number and kinds of motors and actuators you 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(similar to 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 want your input devices being set out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices if required. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is always to allow you to define the specifications essential for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up depending on 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 which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can 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 workout you IO devices list, then obtain the necessary hardware and software needed. You may want additional hardware essential for for fancy touch screen 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 may vary depending on different manufacturer offering particularly if use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start will be to work on existing machines so that you can learn the basics. Then go get a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market can give. I suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. They likewise have a no cost automation online course that can show 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 on the information each piece of it technology, on how to program or properly connect them, however it is not too difficult, a good mechanical engineer should probably excel about this just like any other engineer. The main part of control system design would be to see the process you are going to control and also the goals you want to achieve.