I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however i can provide few hints.
For all automation systems to operate, you must first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. Once you achieve this, you must specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This allows you to understand the number and types of motors and actuators you’ll need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
Per motors you may 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.
These are generally your output devices, you will want your input devices to get set out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine would be to enable you to define the specifications essential 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 that is supplemented with I/O device that may 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 work out you IO devices list, then obtain the necessary hardware and software 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 the way a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions may differ based on different manufacturer offering particularly if use beckhoff based systems. A good way to start may be to work with existing machines so that you will educate yourself on the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market provides. I usually suggest website visitors to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a free automation online course that will teach you the newborn 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 to some additional training around the information every bit of kit, concerning how to program or properly connect them, but it is not rocket science, a great mechanical engineer should probably excel on this as any other engineer. The most important aspect of control system design is always to view the process you are going to control along with the goals you wish to achieve.