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HQ 961496

NOVEMBER 3, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 961496 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8531.80.90, 8543.89.96

Port Director of Customs
610 S. Canal Street
Chicago, IL 60607-4523

RE: PRD 3901-97-101905; Monitoring Equipment Used With Material Handling Elevators and Conveyors; Conveyor Belt Monitoring Devices, Level Monitors for Liquids and Free-Flowing Granular Solids; Parts, Accessories; Electrical Machines and Apparatus Having Individual Functions n.s.i.e.; HQ 956031, HQ 956883, HQ 958076

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 3901-97-101905, filed against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of certain monitoring equipment and apparatus. The entries under protest were liquidated on April 25, 1997, and this protest timely filed on July 24, 1997.

Counsel for the protestant submitted a memorandum of law in support of the entered classification to your office on December 8, 1997. Another submission, dated October 20, 1998, was presented at a meeting held in our office on October 21, 1998, where additional facts and legal arguments were addressed.


This protest covers nine (9) electrical components used to monitor various aspects of the operation of grain handling and other bulk material handling conveyors and elevators. Product literature, together with a narrative in counsel's December 8, 1997, submission, describe the respective functions of these components. The first six devices are characterized as hazard monitors and the remaining three as level detectors.

The A400 Elevator Belt Misalignment System consists of an electronic control module and two magnetic alignment sensors. It functions solely to detect misalignments in bucket elevator conveyor belts. When a misalignment is detected, the sensors generate signals to the control module which energizes an alarm to both audibly and visually alert the operator. The A400 will not initiate machine shutdown. The Beltswitch B400 Belt Brake and Alignment System also consists of a control module and two or more pairs of capacitive proximity sensors placed at predetermined lengths along horizontal conveyor belts. It is identical in function to the A400 except that it detects breaks as well as misalignments in conveyor belts.

The Speedswitch M800 Underspeed Motion Monitor incorporates a sensor to monitor rotating (rpm) speed of a driven shaft in bucket-type grain elevators. If shaft speed falls below a preset variant of normal operating speed, signals are generated via relays to sound an alarm which signals the operator. The Speedswitch will not initiate machine shutdown. When used with tachometers, the M800 provides a visual display of shaft operating speeds. The Rotech Encoder or Rotating Shaft Monitor is said to be a more sophisticated version of the M800. It is an optical device which connects to a computer or control module and, by means of an inductive sensing device, monitors the speed and direction of a rotating shaft in grain elevators. The Encoder attaches directly to the rotating shaft and when shaft speed falls outside specified parameters, it de-energizes a relay which sounds an alarm to alert the operator. The device will not initiate machine shutdown.

The Hot Dog T400 Bearing Temperature Monitoring System consists of a control module and sensors is used with bucket elevators and conveyors. Mounted in bearing housings, the sensors utilize thermistors to detect bearing temperature. When the temperature of a bearing exceeds a preset level, the control module identifies the location of the malfunction and activates an alarm to signal the operator. It will not initiate machine shutdown.

The Watch Dog Combined Belt Alignment, Belt Speed and Bearing Temperature Monitor is used solely with bucket elevators and includes a control module, a motion sensor and temperature probes. The sensors generate pulses which the control module utilizes to determine the speed and alignment status of the conveyor belt. The temperature probe utilizes thermistors to
detect bearing temperatures. Abnormal belt speed or alignment, or excessive bearing temperatures activates an alarm to alert the operator but will not commence machine shutdown.

The Auto-Set RF Capacitance Probe detects the level of liquids or free-flowing granular solids in a storage vessel. When the level of material reaches the probe it senses this dielectric change and actuates a voltage-free relay. This breaks an electrical circuit which stops the flow of material. The RF Capacitance Probe will not restart the flow of material when the material level falls below the level of the probe. The Binswitch Capacitance Level Switch is a sensor which performs functions identical to those of the Auto-Set RF Probe except it is also used in chutes, conveyors and elevator legs.

Finally, the RLI Rotary Level Indicator detects high and low levels of bulk granular solids in bins, tanks or silos. It consists of an electric motor and gearbox which rotate a paddle wheel inside the grain silo or container. When the level of material reaches the paddle and impedes its rotation, the motor switches off, thus breaking an electrical circuit which stops the flow of material.

The components under protest were entered under provisions of HTS heading 8431, as parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of headings 8425 to 8430 [in this case lifting, handling, loading or unloading machinery of heading 8428]. The entries were liquidated under a provision in HTS heading 8537 on the basis that the components in issue are electrical apparatus that perform some kind of control function. Counsel's argument in support of the entered classification is essentially that each of the components is solely or principally used with elevators or conveyors of heading 8428, and they are not more specifically provided for elsewhere in the HTSUS.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms)...; parts thereof:

8531.80 Other apparatus:

8531.80.90 Other

8537 Boards, panels...for electric control or the distribution of electricity...:

8537.10 For a voltage not exceeding
1,000 V:

8537.10.90 Other

8543 Electrical Machines and apparatus having individual functions not specified or included elsewhere in [Chapter 85]; parts thereof:

8543.89 Other:

8543.89.96 Other


Whether the components in issue are provided for in any heading of Chapter 85.


Under General Rule of Interpretation(GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Under Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, parts which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapters 84 and 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. Counsel's parts claim is based on Section XVI, Note 2(b), which states that parts not classifiable under Note 2(a) are to be classified with
the machines with which they are solely or principally used. The parts claim under heading 8431 cannot prevail under this authority because, in our opinion, none of the nine (9) components in this protest qualify as "parts" in a tariff sense. A "part" must be an integral or constituent component necessary to the completion of the machine or apparatus with which it is used and which enables that machine or apparatus to function in the manner for which it was designed. An "accessory," on the other hand, is of secondary importance. It is a device not essential in itself but which adds to the effectiveness of something else. See HQ 958076, dated October 19, 1995, and related cases. Grain elevators are complete, fully operational machines or apparatus whose function does not depend on the hazard monitors or level detectors. These articles are accessories and not parts for tariff purposes. For this reason, they are not classifiable in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS.

As to the liquidated provision, ENs on p. 1506 state that goods of heading 8537 normally consist of apparatus such as switches and fuses on a board, panel or console. They usually also incorporate meters and other subsidiary electrical apparatus that, collectively, facilitate electric control or the distribution of electricity. Neither the submitted product literature, nor other information in the file, permit us to independently determine whether any of the hazard monitors or level indicators meet the description in the heading 8537 ENs.

Heading 8531 describes electric sound or visual signaling apparatus other than those for cycles or motor vehicles (heading 8512) or for railways, parking facilities, airfields, etc. (heading 8530). The ENs for this provision state, at p. 1496, that the heading covers all electrical apparatus used for signaling purposes, whether using sound for the transmission of the signal or using visual indication, and whether operated by hand. The available information indicates that the sole function of each of the six hazard monitors is to electrically initiate both an audible and visual alarm when it detects an abnormal condition existing with respect to a grain elevator conveyor belt, a shaft's rotating speed, or the temperature of a bearing. The hazard monitors meet the description in the heading 8531 ENs. We note that elevator door detection devices, similar in function to the ones in issue here, were classified in subheading 8431.31.00, HTSUS. See HQ 956031, dated June 7, 1994, affirmed by HQ 956883, dated September 26, 1994. However, in addition to
performing an audible signaling function, the devices in that case also prevented the elevator door from closing, a function beyond that covered by heading 8531.

As to the level detectors, consideration was given to heading 9032, automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. However, ENs at p. 1659 state, in part, that apparatus of this heading normally consist of a device for measuring the variable, a control device which compares the measured value with the desired value, and a starting, stopping or operating device. Some apparatus of heading 9032 do not incorporate a control device, but are directly activated by means of a switch when the predetermined value is reached. The available information indicates only that when a predetermined grain level in a silo reaches the probe a circuit breaks, thus stopping the flow of material. There is no evidence of any switching function being performed. The ENs are thus inconclusive as to the applicability of heading 9032.

Heading 8543, a provision for machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [Chapter 85], potentially describes the level detectors. The ENs, at p. 1518, state that heading 8543 covers all electrical appliances and apparatus not falling in any other heading of Chapter 85, nor covered more specifically in any other heading of the Nomenclature, nor excluded by an applicable legal note. Apparatus of heading 8543 must have "individual functions," as explained in the ENs for heading 8479, which apply to heading 8543 by appropriate substitution of terms. Heading 8479 ENs, at p. 1423, cite as an example of a good having an individual function a mechanical device that must be mounted onto or incorporated in another machine or appliance in order to perform its function, provided the function the mechanical device performs is distinct from that performed by the machine or appliance onto or in which it is incorporated and does not play an integral role in the operation of the machine or appliance. The three level indicators in this protest must be mounted onto or incorporated in a grain bin, tank or silo in order to operate, but their function is distinct from the function performed by the grain bin, tank or silo, which is to store grain, that function being unrelated to the function the level indicators perform. The Auto-Set RF Capacitance Probe, Binswitch Capacitance Level Switch, and the RLI Rotary Level Indicator are described by the heading 8543 ENs.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the hazard monitors A400 Elevator Belt Misalignment System, Beltswitch B400 Belt Brake and Alignment System, Speedswitch M800 Underspeed Motion Monitor, Rotech Encoder or Rotating Shaft Monitor, Hot Dog T400 Bearing Temperature Monitoring System, and the Watch Dog Combined Belt Alignment, Belt Speed and Bearing Temperature Monitor, are provided for in heading 8531. They are classifiable in subheading 8531.80.90, HTSUS. Although the rate of duty under this provision is more than the entered rate, it is less than the liquidated rate. For this reason, the six hazard monitors should be reclassified in subheading 8531.80.90, HTSUS, and the protest ALLOWED under this provision.

Under the authority of GRI 1, the level detectors Auto-Set RF Capacitance Probe, Binswitch Capacitance Level Switch, and the RLI Rotary Level Indicator are provided for in heading 8543. They are classifiable in subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS. Because the rate of duty under this provision is more than the liquidated rate, the protest should be DENIED as to this merchandise.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty 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 to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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