I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines and never an automation specialist, however can provide few hints.
For many automation systems to be effective, you should first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. When you accomplish that, you need to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day have in mind the number and types of motors and actuators you will need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For every motors you will 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(more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to manipulate their precise movement.
These are your output devices, you’ll need your input devices to be determined. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices when needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine would be to enable you to define the specifications required 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 the master brain that 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 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 exercise you IO devices list, then get the necessary software and hardware needed. You will need additional hardware necessary for for fancy touchscreen technology 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 vary determined by different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start will be to work on existing machines so that you will educate yourself on the basics. Go have a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market has to offer. I suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a no cost automation online course that may educate you on the child 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 all you need is extra training about the more knowledge about each piece of it technology, concerning how to program or properly connect them, yet it’s not rocket science, a good mechanical engineer should probably excel about this because other engineer. The main part of control system design would be to understand the process you’re going to control and also the goals you would like to achieve.