I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, however can provide you with few hints.
For many automation systems to function, you need to first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan wonderful details finalized. Once you do so, you have to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day understand the number and kinds of motors and actuators you need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each and 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(similar to conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to control their precise movement.
These are generally your output devices, you will need your input devices to become put down. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices as needed. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine is usually to permit you to 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 a CPU the actual master brain that is supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor could 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 figure out you IO devices list, then get the necessary hardware and software needed. You will need additional hardware necessary for for fancy touch screen HMI, line automation and internet based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s how a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ determined by different manufacturer offering specifically if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start will be to focus on existing machines so that you will discover the basics. Go get a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand industry has to offer. It’s my job to suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a free of charge automation online course which will show you the infant steps needed.
You need 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 some additional training around the details of each bit of equipment, regarding how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not rocket science, a good mechanical engineer should probably excel with this as any other engineer. The most crucial element of control system design is always to see the process you will control and also the goals you would like to achieve.