I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, on the other hand can provide few hints.
For all those automation systems to work, you need to first possess a clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. Once you achieve this, you should specify the sort of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you be aware of number and kinds of motors and actuators you need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each 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 manage their precise movement.
They are your output devices, you will want your input devices to be set out. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and also other devices as needed. The reason why i’m stating out this routine is always to allow you to define the specifications necessary 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 you will find the CPU the master brain which is supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor may 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 exercise you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may want additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen display HMI, line automation an internet-based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s that the guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ according to different manufacturer offering specifically if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start is to focus on existing machines so that you will learn the basics. Then go have a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market industry is offering. It’s my job to suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a free automation web based course that can show you the infant 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 around the details of every bit of equipment, on how to program or properly connect them, however it is not rocket science, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel with this because other engineer. The key part of control system design would be to see the process you’re going to control and the goals you need to achieve.