I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines and never an automation specialist, on the other hand can give you few hints.
For those automation systems to function, you need to first use a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all details finalized. When you do so, you have to specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. Each day 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 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 manage their precise movement.
They are your output devices, then you need your input devices being put down. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices when needed. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine would be to permit 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 comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically there is an CPU which is master brain that is supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor will have servo card to get in touch 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 receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may need additional hardware essential for for fancy touch screen 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 varies depending on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. A good way to start can be to work with existing machines so that you study the basics. Then go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market provides. I suggest people to go through Omron catalogues. They likewise have a no cost automation web based course that can educate you on the child steps needed.
You need 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 about the details of every piece of apparatus, concerning how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not brain surgery, a great mechanical engineer should probably excel on this because other engineer. The most crucial element of control system design is usually to see the process you are going to control and the goals you want to achieve.