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I’m a field service engineer for food packaging machines rather than an automation specialist, however can provide you with few hints.

For all those automation systems to work, you must first have a clear and detailed mechanical plan with all of details finalized. Once you do this, you have to specify the type of motions involved, e.g.: linear or rotary. This allows you to know the number and types of motors and actuators you may need(servo, ac single phase, ac 3 phase, pneumatic actuator).

For 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 regulate their precise movement.

These are your output devices, you will want your input devices to be determined. This could be level sensors, flow sensors, proximity switches along with other devices as required. The key reason why i’m stating out this routine is to enable you to define the specifications essential 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 a CPU which is the master brain that is supplemented with I/O device that can be slotted in like cards. Additional complex systems which needs servo motor can have servo card to get in touch 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 obtain the necessary hardware and software needed. You may want additional hardware required for for fancy touchscreen display 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 varies based on different manufacturer offering particularly if you use beckhoff based systems. A sensible way to start will be to work with existing machines so you study the basics. Go obtain a few catalogs from reputable manufacturers to understand what the market industry is offering. It’s my job to suggest individuals to go through Omron catalogues. Next to your skin a no cost automation online course that may coach you on the infant steps needed.

You have to be in a position to design complete PLC systems: architecture design, hardware specfications and selection, logic narratives, logic programming, connection drawings. Everything. Perhaps all you need is some additional training on the more knowledge about every piece of it technology, concerning how to program or properly connect them, yet it’s not too difficult, a great 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 will control and also the goals you need to achieve.

Doug Wilcox

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