I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines instead of an automation specialist, on the other hand can present you with few hints.
For all automation systems to work, you should first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan wonderful details finalized. If you do this, you have to specify the sort of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This lets you know the number and types of motors and actuators you will need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).
For each motors you may 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.
These are generally your output devices, you will want your input devices to become set out. This is often level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches and other devices as needed. The main reason i’m stating out this routine is always to allow you to define the specifications required 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 there is an CPU which is the master brain that’s supplemented with I/O device that can 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 work out you IO devices list, then receive the necessary software and hardware needed. You may want additional hardware essential for for fancy touchscreen technology HMI, line automation and internet based diagnostic and asset monitoring functions. That’s the way a guy with mechanical background can approach complex automation problems.
The solutions may differ based on different manufacturer offering especially if you use beckhoff based systems. The best way to start may be to develop existing machines so that you will learn the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the marketplace has to offer. I suggest visitors to go through Omron catalogues. There is also a free of charge automation online course that will coach you on the baby 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 all you need is additional training on the details of every piece of it technology, on the way to program or properly connect them, but it is not rocket science, an excellent mechanical engineer should probably excel with this just like any other engineer. The main facet of control system design is to view the process you’re going to control and the goals you would like to achieve.