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HQ 957813

June 30, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:M 957813 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 9031.40.80

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
2nd and Chestnut Streets
Room 102
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-2999

RE: Protest 1101-94-100536; Laser Profiler Refractory Measurement System; optical; rangefinders; functional unit; Chapter 90, note 3; Chapter 90, Add. U.S. Note 3; heading 9015; HQs 954117, 955617

Dear District Director:

This is in response to Protest 1101-94-100536, which concerns the classification of the LR 2000 Laser Profiler Refractory Measurement System under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The merchandise was entered on April 5, 1994, and the entry was liquidated on August 12, 1994. The protest was timely filed on August 31, 1994.


The subject merchandise is the LR 2000 Laser Profiler Refractory Measurement System, which is used to measure and analyze the wear on refractory linings. Measurement is based on the transit time of a laser pulse between the LR 2000's optical measurement head and the measurement point, as well as, the simultaneous registering of the orientation of the measurement head. Lining wear can be ascertained by comparing the measured surface with the unused and remaining lining or other reference surfaces.

The LR 2000's measurement electronics are made up of a laser transmitter, receiver, signal processing electronics, time measurement unit and microprocessor-based control unit. The measurement electronics are linked to the measurement head (with optical fibers) and to a personal computer (PC). The measurement head consists of measurement optics (including transmitter and receiver optics), frame, motors, visible-light laser pointer and an optical sight.

The LR 2000 was entered under subheading 9015.10.40, HTSUS, which provides for electrical rangefinders. The system was classified upon liquidation under subheading 9031.40.80, HTSUS, which provides for other optical measuring or checking instruments and appliances.


Whether the LR 2000 Laser Profiler Refractory Measurement System is classifiable as a rangefinder under heading 9015, HTSUS, or as a measuring and checking instrument under heading 9031, HTSUS.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The headings at issue are as follows:

9015 Surveying (including photogrammetrical surveying), hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological, meteorological or geophysical instruments and appliances, excluding compasses; rangefinders; parts and accessories thereof

9031 Measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; profile projectors; parts and accessories thereof

EN 90.15, pg. 1484, states that heading 9015, HTSUS, covers "all types of optical or opto-electronic rangefinders for determining the distance between the instrument and a given object. They are used in surveying, photography and cinematography, by the armed forces, etc." It is our opinion that the LR 2000 is not simply an electrical rangefinder. While the LR 2000 does in fact determine the distance between the instrument and refractory linings, it also, according to the submitted information, "monitors the quality of the measurement data and, if necessary, informs the user of unacceptable deviations," and "performs all . . . comparison, data storage, display and hardcopy generation related to surface profiles." Accordingly, the LR 2000 cannot be classified under heading 9015, HTSUS.

Note 3 to chapter 90, HTSUS, states that the provisions of note 4 to section XVI, HTSUS, also apply to chapter 90. Note 4 to section XVI, HTSUS, provides as follows:

Where a machine (including a combination of machines) consists of individual components (whether separate or interconnected by piping, by transmission devices, by electric cables or by other devices) intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by one of the headings in chapter 84 or chapter 85, then the whole falls to be classified in the heading appropriate to that function.

The components of the LR 2000 contribute together to perform a function clearly defined by heading 9031, HTSUS, namely, measuring. Accordingly, the system is a "functional unit," and is classifiable under heading 9031, HTSUS, although the issue of whether they system is "optical" remains.

Additional U.S. Note 3 to chapter 90, HTSUS, provides that the terms optical appliances and optical instruments "refer only to those appliances and instruments which incorporate one or more optical elements, but do not include any appliances or instruments in which the incorporated optical element or elements are solely for viewing a scale or for some other subsidiary purpose." The LR 2000 incorporates a laser, optical sight and various other measurement optics. - 4 -

We have recently considered the classification of other laser-based inspection systems. In HQ 954117, dated August 22, 1994, we determined that the Sira Image Automation laser-based inspection system, which was designed to identify defects in flat homogenous products, was classifiable under heading 9031, HTSUS, as an optical checking instrument. The system incorporated lenses which focused its laser beam onto the surface of the products being examined, mirrors which controlled the direction of the beam and a mirrored, rotating polygon, which caused the beam to be swept across the product.

In HQ 955617, dated March 29, 1995, we considered the classification of the Geotronics Industrial Measuring System, a system similar to the LR 2000. We determined that the Geotronics system, which was designed to measure the thickness of the refractory brick lining of steel vessels, was classifiable under heading 9031, HTSUS, as an optical measuring or checking instrument. The system incorporated a laser, transmitting and receiving optics and angle sensing discs, which consisted of a glass disc and two prisms.

In HQ 954117 and HQ 955617, each system's laser, in combination with the optics located outside of each laser--the lenses, mirrors and mirrored polygon in the Sira system, and the transmitting optics, receiving optics and angle sensing discs in the Geotronics system--led to the determination that the systems were "optical" ones. We found that the optical components of both systems were not for some subsidiary purpose, such as, viewing a scale. Similarly, the LR 2000's laser, in combination with the optical sight and other measurement optics, lead us to the determination that the system is an "optical" one. Thus, according to additional U.S. note 3 to chapter 90, HTSUS, and note 3 to chapter 90, HTSUS, the LR 2000 is classifiable under subheading 9031.40.80, HTSUS.


The LR 2000 Laser Profiler Refractory Measurement System is classifiable under subheading 9031.40.80, HTSUS

The protest should be DENIED. In accordance with section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to the mailing of the decision. Sixty - 5 -
days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director

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