I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however can give you few hints.
For those automation systems to work, you should first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. Once you accomplish that, you need to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day be aware of number and types of motors and actuators you may 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(similar to conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to regulate their precise movement.
These are your output devices, then you need your input devices being put down. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices when needed. The reason why i’m stating out this routine is always to enable you to define the specifications needed for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up determined by system complexity.
Most PLC hardware is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you will find the CPU the master brain that’s supplemented with I/O device that could be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can have servo card for connecting 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 receive the necessary hardware and software needed. You may want additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation and online diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ determined by different manufacturer offering particularly if use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start can be to work on existing machines so that you will study the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the marketplace can give. It’s my job to suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a free automation web based course that will teach you the child steps needed.
You need to be capable to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you simply need extra training around the information each bit of apparatus, 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 most crucial part of control system design is always to view the process you will control along with the goals you would like to achieve.