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Vermeer Corporation’s direct drive attachment for its Terrain Leveler surface excavation machine (SEM) provides for a more efficient transfer of power to the cutter head, while reducing moving parts. The direct drive system features a hydraulic low-speed motor on each side of the SEM cutter head that provides direct drive power to the cutter drum. This design provides a more efficient transfer of power to the cutter drum helping to increase production efficiency. The SEM top-down cutting allows the cutter teeth to gain penetration without using the machine’s tractive effort to drive the teeth into the minerals. As the unit travels forward and the drum rotates, the teeth on top of the drum advance over the top of the mineral surface. As the teeth come down toward the mineral surface, they make contact by impacting the mineral. Operators can also optimize material size.