World Trade: The Automation Race

Looming up out of the verdant, time-resisting fields of rural France like a grotesque invader from outer space, the great factory hums mechanically about its business. Indifferent to the handful of humans who keep watch, a complex of electronic controls selects silica, alkali and lime from giant bins, mixes them together and feeds them into a white-hot furnace. From the furnace pours forth a river of glass 10 ft. wide, 1.7 in. thick and nearly half a mile long.

This eerie giant, the Chantereine plant of France's Saint-Gobain glassmakers, is the most modern glass...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!