I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, but i can give you few hints.
For all those automation systems to work, you should first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. When you achieve this, you should specify the motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This enables you to be aware of number and kinds of motors and actuators you’ll need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For every 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(much more conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to control their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you will need your input devices to become set out. This is level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is usually 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 you have the CPU the master brain which is supplemented with I/O device that can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor will 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 workout you IO devices list, then get the necessary hardware and software needed. You will need additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation and internet based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s that the guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions could differ based on different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. A great way to start can be to work on existing machines so you discover the basics. Go have a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market has to offer. I always suggest website visitors to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a no cost automation online course that will coach you on the newborn steps needed.
You should be capable of design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need to extra training about the information every bit of equipment, on how to program or properly connect them, however it is not rocket science, a great mechanical engineer should probably excel for this every other engineer. The most crucial facet of control system design would be to comprehend the process you are going to control and the goals you need to achieve.