I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, but i can provide you with few hints.
For all those automation systems to function, you need to first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. When you do this, you need to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This enables you to understand the number and types of motors and actuators you need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
Per 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(a lot more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to regulate their precise movement.
These are your output devices, you will need your input devices to get lay out. This could be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices if required. The reason i’m stating out this routine would be to allow you to define the specifications required 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 an CPU the actual master brain that’s supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor could 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 figure out you IO devices list, then have the necessary software and hardware needed. You might need additional hardware necessary for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation and internet based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions varies determined by different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start may be to work with existing machines so that you can educate yourself on the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market provides. I always suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. They also have a free of charge automation online course that can coach you on the newborn steps needed.
You ought to be able 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 around the information each bit of kit, on the way to program or properly connect them, yet it’s not nuclear physics, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel about this every other engineer. The key part of control system design would be to understand the process you will control and the goals you want to achieve.