I’m an area service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, but i can provide few hints.
For all those automation systems to be effective, you have to first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan effortlessly details finalized. When you achieve this, you must specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This enables you to be aware of number and types of motors and actuators you may 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 regulate their precise movement.
These are your output devices, then you need your input devices to get lay out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches as well as other devices as required. The reason why 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 comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you have the CPU which is the master brain which can be supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor may 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 receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You will need additional hardware required for for fancy touchscreen display 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 may vary depending on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start is to focus on existing machines so that you discover the basics. Then go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the market has to offer. I always suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. They also have a no cost automation online course that may teach you the child steps needed.
You ought to be capable to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need additional training for the details of each piece of apparatus, concerning how to program or properly connect them, but it’s not too difficult, a good mechanical engineer should probably excel on this just like any other engineer. The most important facet of control system design would be to view the process you are going to control along with the goals you would like to achieve.