I’m an industry service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, on the other hand can give you few hints.
For all automation systems to work, you need to first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan wonderful details finalized. If you do so, you should specify the sort of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This enables you to understand the number and types of motors and actuators you may need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each and 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(more like 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 need your input devices to become lay out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches as well as other devices as needed. The reason why i’m stating out this routine is usually to enable you to define the specifications necessary for your control system hardware requirements. All PLC manufacturers layout their product line-up based on system complexity.
Most PLC hardware comes as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you will find the CPU the actual master brain which is supplemented with I/O device which can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can have servo card in order 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 work out you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may need additional hardware required for for fancy touchscreen 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 varies based on different manufacturer offering particularly if use beckhoff based systems. A good way to start will be to work with existing machines so you discover the basics. Then go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what industry can give. I always suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a totally free automation web based course that will show you the newborn steps needed.
You ought to be able to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need extra training around the more knowledge about every piece of equipment, concerning how to program or properly connect them, but it is not too difficult, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel on this because other engineer. The most crucial facet of control system design would be to understand the process you will control along with the goals you would like to achieve.