The easy way to tie a bag
A bag-tying machine doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it was a dream in the early 20th century that wouldn’t die for Frank Lindgren, once the chief weighmaster and scale expert at the Washburn-Crosby Co.
Lindgren wanted to come up with a way to keep the women working on the Washburn-Crosby Co. packing floor from having to tie small flour sacks by hand. Instead, he wanted to find a way to put sacks filled with flour onto a conveyor, to a small machine, which would draw the sacks closed with a string and form a knot.
It could then be said that the flour had not been touched by human hands since it arrived at the mill as wheat.
Lindgren picked up old gears, pieces of discarded machinery and other odds and ends. Working for almost three years, he succeeded in completing the machine, shown above, around 1914. It was the first bag-tying machine ever manufactured.
This model tied approximately 24 sacks a minute, a third more than the women on the packing floor had been able to achieve. Initially hand fed to the machine, one young woman in an eight-hour day had tied as many as 12,000 bags.
Washburn-Crosby Co. became the only milling company in the world to tie its small sacks automatically. The invention sped up the work, made it neater, more efficient and much more pleasant for the women who did the packing.
Lindgren sold the right to manufacture an improved tying machine to a large eastern manufacturing organization in January 1923. Entirely different from those used in the Washburn-Crosby Co.’s mills, his newer model tied sacks varying in weight from two to fifty pounds. It was also entirely automatic.
The sack moved on a belt from where it was filled to the tying machine. Lindgren received a royalty on all machines sold, as well as a lump sum for the right. He worked on the new machine in Washburn-Crosby Co.’s shops and in return he waived all royalties on future machines used by the company.
Lindgren later invented numerous other devices which proved of great value for us and he was always the man called upon when new mechanical ideas were needed.
Editor’s note: The photo of Lindgren above is from “The Eventually News,” January 17, 1923. The photo of the first tying machine made by Lindgren is circa. 1914. In the same photo, on the right, is the 1922 machine used in the Washburn-Crosby Co.’s mills.
Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.