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HQ 078500

June 16, 1988

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G: 078500 MR


TARIFF NO. 685.90

District Director of Customs
U.S.Customs Service
Detroit, Michigan

RE: Classification of programmable control apparatus for resistance welding machines

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 3801-6-000105, dated January 23, 1986, contesting your classification of certain welding control apparatus from Canada. At issue is Entry Number 85904578, dated October 22, 1984. Liquidation took place September 27, 1985.


The article at issue, designated as the Medar Legend Resistance Weld Control (Medar Weld Control), is programmable control apparatus designed for use with resistance welding machines. The Medar Weld Control is microprocessor-based, accepts input, and generates appropriate output which facilitates control of welding machines.

The merchandise was entered under item 683.90, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), which provides for "Welding machines and apparatus, and parts thereof." Liquidation was under item 685.90, TSUS, which provides for, inter alia, control panels and parts thereof.


Whether the Medar Weld Control is properly classifiable as parts of welding machines, in item 683.90, TSUS, or in item 685.90, TSUS, which provides for control panels and parts thereof.


The importer/protestant has submitted that the merchandise at issue is not general purpose control apparatus, but is designed to be dedicated only for use in conjunction with resistance welding machines, and is considered to be a principal element of a welding machine. It is stated that this is evidenced by the inclusion in the Medar Weld Control apparatus of such devices as water fittings, hoses, and water cooled components which are not usually found in general purpose industrial controls. Moreover, the resistance welding machine cannot function without the subject control apparatus. Consequently, it is submitted, the subject articles are "more than" merchandise described in item 685.90, TSUS, and are more properly classifiable as parts of welding apparatus, in item 683.90, TSUS.

Pursuant to General Headnote 10(ij), TSUS, a tariff provision "for 'parts' covers a product solely or chiefly used as a part of such articles but does not prevail over a specific provision for such part." As the importer/protestant has submitted, the subject units are specifically designed for use in a welding machine, thereby coming under the first portion of General Headnote 10(ij), TSUS. However, the dedication and limited application of the Medar Weld Control does not diminish, change, or significantly expand its essential use, which is to permit electrical control of a welding machine. Indeed, the "control panels" provided for in item 685.90, TSUS, are very often restricted in their application or use.

Likewise, the fact that the Medar Weld Control is microprocessor-based does not remove it from the realm of tariff classification pursuant to its control function, which serves to define the merchandise. In our view, data processing technologies are merely used as the "means" for the subject article to properly perform its function.

In Headquarters Ruling (HQ) 071823 (March 20, 1985), it was determined that the proper classification of an early generation microprocessor-based programmable controller was in item 685.90, TSUS. This ruling cited HQ 071563 (March 7, 1985), which also concerned a microprocessor-based programmable controller, and determined the proper classification to be in item 685.90, TSUS.

While not dispositive, the Explanatory Notes to the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature provide guidance concerning the term "control panels." Specifically, Section XVI, Chapter 85.19 provides, in pertinent part:

These consist of an assembly of apparatus of the kind referred to above (e.g., switches, fuses and rheostats) on a board, panel, framework, etc. or mounted in a cabinet, desk, etc. They usually also incorporate meters, and sometimes also subsidiary apparatus such as transformers, valves, or voltage regulators or luminous circuit diagrams. They are classified here provided their essential use is for electrical control purposes (i.e., provided that they do not incorporate any substantial proportion of the operating part of the machine or installation controlled).

We conclude that although the data processing technology, and the dedicated design of some of the components, present a certain sophistication to the Medar Weld Control, they do not contribute to a function which is inconsistent with its essential use, which is for electrical control purposes. Accordingly, it is properly classifiable in item 685.90, TSUS.


The subject Medar Weld Control is properly classifiable in item 685.90, TSUS, which provides for control panels and parts thereof.

The protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Form 19 Notice of Action to satisfy the notice requirements of section 174.30(a), Customs Regulations.

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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