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NY L83909

April 28, 2005

CLA-2-84:RR:NC:1:104 L83909


TARIFF NO.: 8479.50.0000

Mr. Michael Jackson
Meeks, Sheppard & Pillsbury
100 Newport Center Drive, Suite 220
Newport Beach, CA 92660

RE: The tariff classification of a robot arm without end-of-arm tooling and without controller from Japan

Dear Mr. Jackson:

In your letter dated April 22, 2005 on behalf of Denso Sales California of Long Beach, California you requested a tariff classification ruling.

You state that the subject merchandise consists of a vertically articulated (6 axis) industrial robotic arm, Denso part number VS-6556E-BM. Part number VS-6556E-BM corresponds to the robot arm part of the complete VS-E series robot whereby the “M” stands for “mechanism or arm only”, the “B” stands for “brake model” and the “E” is inserted to indicate that it is compatible with Denso’s E-series controller (not included). The VS-E series robot can be found on page 5 of the Denso Robotics sales literature you have provided.

You state that in order to be functional in any way, the robot arm must be combined with a controller and cables. Subsequent to importation, Denso’s customers must add this equipment. The arm does not have any sensors nor does it have a mobile holder for the toolholder. The arm contains six electric motors and mounting holes at its base. Denso envisions a wide variety of uses for the robot arm including assembly, loading/unloading, arc welding, dispensing, or inspection using a vision/camera system however the end-of-arm tooling is also not included. The lift capacity of the robot arm is 5 kg.

You believe that Denso’s robot arm is properly classified in heading 8479. It is not specifically designed to perform a specific function because it is a general purpose manipulator imported without end-of-arm tooling, EPROM chip, sensors and mobile holder. Denso’s customers will domestically manufacture and program their own controllers and thus control its specific function.

You argue that it is not an industrial robot because it does not fit the criteria of an industrial robot. You point out that the 8479 ENs state that industrial robots are automatic machines which can be preprogrammed to carry out repeatedly a cycle of movements, use sensors, have at their extremity a mobile holder for the tool holder and are mounted on a base. The subject robot arm is mounted on a base but it cannot be programmed and does not have any sensors or mobile holder. You believe that all four criteria of an industrial robot, as described in the ENs for Heading 8479 must be found on the robot arm for it to be properly classified as an industrial robot under the HTS. Since three of the four criteria of an industrial robot do not describe the robot arm, the robot arm cannot be classified as an industrial robot under the HTS.

You believe that Denso’s robot arm differs from the merchandise in HQ ruling 965637 of July 16, 2002 because it does not include the controller. In ruling 965637 Customs concluded “that an importation consisting of an articulated arm or manipulator and process controller, in which the end use service application of the whole is clearly identifiable, represent the aggregate of distinctive components that establish the identity of the good ” You would classify the arm as a part under 8479.90.9440. Citing numerous precedents, you argue that the robot “arm” meets all of the HTS, Court and Customs definitions of what constitutes a part for tariff purposes.

HQ ruling 965637 of July 16, 2002 which you have cited modified HQ ruling 962105 of April 22, 1999 to recognize both the tariff concept of unfinished functional units, and the position that functional units are eligible for classification in heading 8479, HTSUS. It did not modify the ruling with regard to the classification of the robot arm or the controller. Ruling 962105 stated that the ENs include within heading 8479 machines that have individual functions and which are not excluded by an applicable legal note or are more specifically provided for elsewhere in the HTSUS. Mechanical devices have an individual function even if they must be incorporated into a more complex entity, provided this function is distinct from that which is performed by the entity in which it is incorporated. A robot must be connected to its controller or have a controller incorporated into it in order to operate, but the specific mechanical function a robot performs is distinct from the function performed by the controller. The robots in issue have individual functions for purposes of heading 8479, and are not more specifically described in any other heading of the HTSUS. Further, the ENs include within heading 8479 industrial robots for multiple uses, those capable of performing a variety of functions simply by using different tools. The ruling concluded that under GRI 1, the components of industrial robot systems, each consisting of a robot without end-of-arm tooling and a model S4C controller, are separately classifiable, in subheading 8479.50.00, HTSUS, as industrial robots not elsewhere specified or included, and in subheading 8537.10.90, HTSUS, as other bases for electric control or the distribution of electricity, respectively.

Ruling 962105 did not classify the robot as parts. The ENs to heading 8479 state that the machinery of this heading is distinguished from the parts of machinery, etc., that fall to be classified in accordance with the general provisions concerning parts, by the fact that it has individual functions. As noted above, the robot arm has an individual function.

While you suggest that based on the Explanatory Notes to heading 8479 an industrial robot must include the control and end-of-arm tooling to be classified in subheading 8479.50, General Rule of Interpretation 2(a) states that any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

We believe that the Denso robot arm imported by itself has the essential character of an industrial robot for multiple uses. The robot arm is the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an industrial robot is, that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article. (See HQ ruling 967390 of April 1, 2005 which cites HQ rulings 966681 of November 25, 2003.) While we agree that the robot arm must be combined with a controller and cables to be functional in any way, HQ ruling 967390 states that almost every machine, apparatus or piece of equipment imported incomplete or unfinished will be unable to operate without a missing component or part.

The applicable subheading for the Denso robot arm without end-of-arm tooling and controller will be 8479.50.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not elsewhere specified or included in this chapter: industrial robots, not elsewhere specified or included. The rate of duty will be 2.5 percent.

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 Robert Losche at 646-733-3011.


Robert B. Swierupski

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