An auger is a device for moving material or liquid (see Archimedes' screw) by means of a rotating helical flighting. The material is moved along the axis of rotation. For some uses the helical 'flighting' is enclosed in a tube, for other uses the flighting is not encased. An integral part of a drill, the auger of the drill bit, uses this mechanism to remove shavings from the hole being drilled.
The grain auger is used in agriculture to move grain from trucks and grain carts into grain storage bins (from where it is later removed by gravity chutes at the bottom). A grain auger may be powered by an electric motor; a tractor, through the power take-off; or sometimes an internal combustion engine mounted on the auger. The helical flighting rotates inside a long metal tube, moving the grain upwards. On the lower end, a hopper receives grain from the truck or grain cart. A chute on the upper end guides the grain into the destination location.
The modern grain auger of today's farming communities was invented by Peter Pakosh. His grain mover employed a screw-type auger with a minimum of moving parts, a totally new application for this specific use. At Massey Harris (later Massey Ferguson), young Pakosh approached the design department in the 1940s with his auger idea, but was scolded and told that his idea was unimaginable and that once the auger aged and bent that the metal on metal would, according to a head Massey designer, "start fires all across Canada". Pakosh, however, went on to design and build a first prototype auger in 1945, and 8 years later start selling tens of thousands under the 'Versatile' name, making it the standard for modern grain augers.
A specialized form of grain auger is used to transfer grain into a seed drill, and is usually quite a lot smaller in both length and diameter than the augers used to transfer grain to or from a truck, grain cart or bin. This type of auger is known as a "drill fill". Grain augers with a small diameter, regardless of the use they are put to, are often called "pencil augers".
An auger may also be used in agriculture or animal farming for digging post holes. Such an auger is called an earth auger or soil auger. This kind of auger can be a manually turned, handheld device, or powered by an electric motor or internal-combustion engine, possibly attached to a tractor (being provided with power by the tractor engine's power take-off as shown).
Various other applications of the auger include its use in snowblowers, to move snow towards an impeller, where it is thrown into the discharge chute. Combine harvesters use both enclosed and open augers to move the unthreshed crop into the threshing mechanism and to move the grain into and out of the machine's hopper. Ice resurfacers use augers to remove loose ice particles from the surface of the ice. Plumbers use a plumber's snake, a flexible auger, to remove obstructions from pipes. Handheld augers can also be used for garden planting.
In construction, auger screws are used for special drilling rigs to dig holes for deep foundation piles.
An auger is also a central component of an injection molding machine. Augers are also used by ice fisherman to drill holes to fish through. These can be either gas- or hand-powered.
An auger is used in some rubbish compactors to push the rubbish into a lowered plate at one end for compaction.