I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however i can provide few hints.
For many automation systems to be effective, you have to first have a very clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. Whenever you do this, you need to specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you know the number and kinds of motors and actuators you may need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
Per 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(a lot more like conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to manage their precise movement.
They’re your output devices, you’ll need your input devices being put down. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and also other devices as required. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine is always to permit you to define the specifications necessary 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 which is the master brain which can be supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can 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 obtain the necessary software and hardware needed. You might need additional hardware needed for for fancy touchscreen HMI, line automation and online diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s what sort of guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions may vary based on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start may be to focus on existing machines so you discover the basics. Then go get yourself a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the marketplace provides. I always suggest website visitors to go through Omron catalogues. They likewise have a free automation online course that can coach you on the infant steps needed.
You need to be able to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you simply need some additional training for the information each piece of equipment, on the way to program or properly connect them, but it’s not too difficult, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel about this because other engineer. The most important aspect of control system design would be to comprehend the process you’re going to control and also the goals you would like to achieve.