I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, however can give you few hints.
For many automation systems to operate, you must first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all details finalized. When you accomplish that, you need to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This allows you to know the number and types of motors and actuators you need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For 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(a lot more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to manipulate their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, then you need your input devices being set out. This could be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as needed. The reason why i’m stating out this routine is to permit you to define the specifications needed for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up according to system complexity.
Most PLC hardware comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically there is an 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 will 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 have the necessary software and hardware needed. You may need additional hardware needed for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation an internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ based on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start will be to work with existing machines so you study the basics. Then go get yourself a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the marketplace provides. I always suggest website visitors to go through Omron catalogues. They likewise have a no cost automation online course which will educate you on the baby steps needed.
You ought to be in a position to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps all you need is additional training about the information every piece of it technology, regarding how to program or properly connect them, but it is not rocket science, a great mechanical engineer should probably excel for this every other engineer. The main facet of control system design is to view the process you will control along with the goals you wish to achieve.