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...

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