The term "automatic conveyor" can refer to several types of conveyor systems, which are devices used to either pull or guide heavy objects along a track. Automatic conveyor systems are commonly used in warehouses and other industrial settings to help sort products, move heavy objects from one location to another for assembly or sorting for shipping, or to allow for inspection and packaging of materials. Some conveyor systems use belts that are affixed to drums that rotate. Such systems are powered by motors, which means a user does not have to physically move objects on the conveyor system.
One type of automatic conveyor consists entirely of drums or rollers that are fixed into a track in succession. An object can be placed on the rollers and slid along the track; this would be a manual conveyor system since the user needs to push the item. Some of these systems can actually be built in such a way that the track is slanted so the objects will simply move along the track thanks to gravity. Automatic conveyor systems feature motors that power a belt on which objects can be placed for transport. This requires no handheld use, so objects are automatically transported along the track as necessary.
Of course, if objects need to be sorted, some human personnel will be necessary. Some automatic conveyor systems exist, however, that can sort packages automatically without the need for a human monitor. These systems may use laser scanners, scales, or other pieces of equipment to analyze which packages need to be sent in which direction. The type of automation used to accomplish sorting will vary significantly by machine, with some of the more advanced machines using laser technology and less advanced machines using simple scales or physical guides to accomplish accurate sorting.
Industrial applications aren't the only uses for automatic conveyor systems. Some car washes, for example, feature motorized conveyor systems that will automatically grab onto the bottom of the vehicle and pull it through the car wash building with no need for human interaction between the car and conveyor. Some ski areas now use conveyor systems to transport skiers up the hills; these systems tend to be short, and they are common on less difficult trails. They are great for new skiers who are not comfortable with more traditional ski lift options yet, though they may also be installed in areas where a traditional ski lift cannot be built.