I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines and not an automation specialist, but i can present you with few hints.
For all those automation systems to be effective, you must first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. When you achieve this, you should specify the kind of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This enables you to have in mind the number and kinds 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(much more conveyors, liquid tank level control pumps or rollers).Servo motors need Servo drivers to control their precise movement.
These are your output devices, you will want your input devices to get determined. This can be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices when needed. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine is usually 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 is sold as reconfigurable rack chassis. Basically you will find the CPU which is the master brain that is supplemented with I/O device that may be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can 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 work out you IO devices list, then get the necessary hardware and software needed. You will 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 could differ based on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. A good way to start is to develop existing machines so that you discover the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand the marketplace can give. I usually suggest people to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a no cost automation online course which will show you the infant steps needed.
You should be in a position to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps you just need to extra training on the more knowledge about every bit of kit, on how to program or properly connect them, however it is not nuclear physics, a fantastic mechanical engineer should probably excel about this because other engineer. The most crucial facet of control system design is to see the process you are likely to control and the goals you wish to achieve.