I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, however can provide you with few hints.
For those automation systems to operate, you must first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all details finalized. Once you do this, you must specify the motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day be aware of number and types of motors and actuators you’ll 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(much more conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to regulate their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you’ll need your input devices to be lay out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices as required. The reason i’m stating out this routine is always to let you define the specifications essential for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up based on system complexity.
Most PLC hardware is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically there is an CPU which is the master brain that is supplemented with I/O device that could be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can have servo card to get in touch 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 obtain the necessary hardware and software needed. You will need additional hardware required for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation and internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions varies according to different manufacturer offering specifically if you use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start will be to develop existing machines so that you can learn the basics. Go get a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the marketplace provides. I always suggest people to go through Omron catalogues. They also have a free of charge automation online course which will educate you on the infant steps needed.
You ought to be capable of design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you simply need some additional training for the specifics of each bit of it technology, on how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not nuclear physics, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel about this just like any other engineer. The key facet of control system design is to see the process you are likely to control along with the goals you would like to achieve.