While it has its critics, there's no denying new jobs are being created as drilling operations in what's known as the Eagle Ford Shale expand. Not far away from the billions of barrels of oil sitting in the ground employees of Hunt and Hunt Ltd, a small Houston manufacturing company, work side by side with "Bob" their newest colleague.
"Our specialty is what's called perforating guns," said Michael Bowman. "These are the tubulars that go down hole into the well and perforate and blow up the earth's formation to allow the oil and gas to come in."
This is Bob's first day on the job, running machines that make those tools.
We watched as his metal claw grabbed a tool from a prep station, drained it of any fluid, set it in the next station and then grabbed another part to repeat the process. While that second tool was being prepped, Bob grabbed the initial tool, cleaned up any internal sharp edges and carefully placed it on a palette of his first day creations.
When Bob is fully up to speed, he will do this 300 times a day. His human co-workers make an average of 70 parts on a normal shift, but they're not worried about the newcomer's performance.
"The robots are actually adding more work, so we haven't had to displace anybody," Bowman said. "The robots are going to work when we're not here. It's going to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day."
Bob's younger, or rather smaller, brother "Ted" has been on the job here a bit longer. Bowman plans to add a third robot to his workforce soon.
"Thirty three years ago we were a manual shop," he said. Things have definitely changed. Elsewhere in the shop, human employees use laser machines they built themselves to prepare the tools for operational explosives. In a separate warehouse, sit some of the largest Millturn machines in the world, some of them connected to a tiny tablet.
"The IPADS are allowing us to literally run our manufacturing floor," Bowman said.