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NY F88736

July 20, 2000

CLA-2-84:RR:NC:1:103 F88736


TARIFF NO.: 8479.50.0000; 8537.10.90

Mr. Hubert Collin
Staubli Corporation
PO Box 189
Duncan, SC 29334

RE: The tariff classification of clean room robots from France

Dear Mr. Collin:

In your letter dated June 13, 2000 you requested a tariff classification ruling.

With your inquiry you submitted brochures and other documentation regarding the RX series of 6-axis industrial robots. These robots basically consist of a mechanical arm assembly and a controller with programmable software. The arm and the controller are floor-mounted and connected by an electrical cable. The robot arm contains the base, the shoulder, the arm itself, the elbow, the forearm, and the wrist. The arm also contains motors, brakes, transmission mechanisms, cable bundles, and pneumatic and electric circuitry, as well as a counterbalance system. However, as imported the robots lack grippers or other end of arm tooling.

A brochure on the RX series of robots indicates that they have a wide range of applications including assembly, material handling, water-jet cutting, surface finishing, and inspection. They are available in several models, with payloads ranging from 1.5 kilograms to 60 kilograms. In addition, the various models are available in several versions: an “L” version, featuring a longer forearm and arm; an EX version for explosive environments, such as painting and some cleaning applications; and a CR version, designed for use in a clean room environment such as may be found in certain electronic and integrated circuit manufacturing and assembly plants. It is the CR version specifically on which you seek a tariff classification ruling.

You have stated that you are aware of Ruling Letter HQ 962105 dated April 22, 1999 in which the Customs Service held that industrial robots without end of arm tooling were classifiable in subheading 8479.50.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere (in chapter 84): industrial robots, not elsewhere specified or included. This ruling further held that the controllers for these robots were separately classifiable in subheading 8537.10.90, HTS, which provides for boards, panels, consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity, including those incorporating instruments or apparatus of chapter 90, and numerical control apparatus, other than switching apparatus of heading 8517: for a voltage not exceeding 1000 V: other: other: other.

Nonetheless, you have contended that the CR version of the RX series of robots should be classified in heading 8428 of the HTS (you did not specify a particular subheading within that heading). Heading 8428 provides for other lifting, handling, loading or unloading machinery. You have based this claim on the following assertions:

CR version robots are exclusively designed and manufactured for wafer handling operations and are incorporated into cells which handle wafers and wafer cassettes. The 1998 HTS included a subheading, 8428.90.40, which provided for automated machines for transport, handling and storage of semiconductor wafers, wafer cassettes, wafer boxes and other material for semiconductor devices.

CR version robots have a smoother surface than other RX series robots, are colored white rather than yellow, have an anodized rather than painted wrist, and are always identified by the use of the letters “CR” after the model number.

CR version robots have a selling price approximately 30 percent greater than non-CR versions.

In addition, you have supplied a listing of customers who purchased CR version robots from 1996 through June, 1999. The listing indicates the particular handling operation claimed to be performed by the robot.

In a recently issued Ruling Letter, HQ 963029 dated July 7, 2000, the Customs Service re-affirmed the classification position taken in Ruling Letter HQ 962105 with regard to robots imported without end of arm tooling. The subject of Ruling Letter HQ 963029 was industrial robots, without end of arm tooling, which were claimed to be configured, prior to importation, for a particular function by means of programming instructions to implement the robot’s intended end use. Ruling Letter HQ 963029 states, among other things, that industrial robots without end of arm tooling are not designed to perform a specific function, as you claim for the CR version robots, but instead can perform a variety of functions depending on what tool is added.

Regarding your arguments, the customer listing you supplied indicates that CR version robots are not used exclusively for wafer handling, but are also used in mercury cell and flat panel display production. In addition, subheading 8428.90.40 has been deleted from the current HTS and thus is no longer a valid classification provision. Finally, we find that your remaining assertions do not provide a valid basis for overcoming the classification position expressed in Ruling Letters HQ 962105 and HQ 963029 regarding robots without end of arm tooling. We are thus unable to concur with your classification opinion. A copy of Ruling Letter HQ 963029 is attached for your review.

Accordingly, the applicable subheading for the CR version of the RX series of industrial robots, imported without end of arm tooling, will be 8479.50.0000, HTS, which provides for machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere (in chapter 84): industrial robots, not elsewhere specified or included. The rate of duty will be 2.5 percent ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the controller for the CR version of RX robots imported without end of arm tooling will be 8537.10.90, HTS, which provides for other basesfor electric control or the distribution of electricity: for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: other: other. The rate of duty will be 2.7 percent ad valorem.

It should be noted that any software on media imported with the robots is also separately classifiable in accordance with note 6 to chapter 85, HTS. Note 6 to chapter 85 states that records, tapes and other media of heading 8523 or 8524 remain classified in those headings, whether or not they are entered with the apparatus for which they are intended.

Finally, you state that the robot controllers imported with the CR version of the RX series robots include parts which are made in the United States. Generally, articles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fabricated components, the product of the United States, which (a) were exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, (b) have not lost their physical identity in such articles by change in form, shape or otherwise, and (c) have not been advanced in value or improved in condition abroad except by being assembled and except by operations incidental to the assembly process such as cleaning, lubricating and painting are eligible for a reduction in duty in accordance with subheading 9802.00.80, HTS, provided the documentary requirements of Sec. 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 10.24), are met. Articles eligible for classification in subheading 9802.00.80 are subject to duty upon the full value of the imported article, less the cost or value of such products of the United States.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Alan Horowitz at 212-637-7027.


Robert B. Swierupski

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