I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however can provide few hints.
For many automation systems to operate, you have to first possess a clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. Whenever you accomplish that, you should specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you know the number and types of motors and actuators you’ll need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each motors you may want 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.
They are your output devices, you will want your input devices to get determined. This is level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches as well as other devices when needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is always to permit you to define the specifications required for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up according to system complexity.
Most PLC hardware is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically there is an CPU which is master brain which can be supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor could have servo card 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 workout you IO devices list, then obtain the necessary hardware and software needed. You may need additional hardware necessary for for fancy touchscreen HMI, line automation and online diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s the way a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ determined by different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start may be to focus on existing machines so you study the basics. Go get yourself a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand industry provides. I always suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a totally free automation online course that may teach you the newborn steps needed.
You have to be capable of 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 details of every piece of kit, concerning how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not brain surgery, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel about this just like any other engineer. The most crucial aspect of control system design would be to see the process you’re going to control and also the goals you want to achieve.