CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 950120 AJS
Stephen J. Leahy, Esq.
Leahy & Ward
Attorneys at Law
63 Commercial Wharf
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
RE: Reconsideration HQ 083189; Laser vision system; Subheading
8515.31.00; ENs 85.37; H. Conf. Rep. No. 576; HQ 085281; HQ
078500; Section XVI, note 2(a).
Dear Mr. Leahy;
This is in reply to your letter of August 7, 1991,
requesting reconsideration of Headquarters ruling (HQ) 083189
In HQ 083189, Customs addressed the classification of the
"Laser Vision" system (LVS) which performs welding and gluing
operations. We ruled that this merchandise was properly
classifiable within subheading 8537.10.00, Harmonized Tariff
Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).
The LVS consists of a laser vision sensor, controller (in a
Nema-12 enclosure), an operator interface motion system with
servo motors and slides, and a machine interface. The Nema-12
contains an IBM-AT processor, motor control amplifiers, and
machine interface. The LVS uses the vision sensor to "visualize"
the seams to be welded. This information is then forwarded to
the controller which determines the appropriate welding operation
to be performed, at the same time the servo motors are directed
to move the actual welding apparatus to perform the welding
Whether the LVS is classifiable within subheading
8515.31.00, HTSUS, which provides for fully or partly automatic
machines and apparatus for arc welding of metal; or classifiable
within subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for
"[b]oards, panels . . . 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 . . ."
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Heading 8515, HTSUS, provides for arc welding machines or
apparatus. It is claimed that the LVS satisfies the terms of
this heading. While the LVS contains components which may be
used to control a welding operation, it does not contain the
actual welding machine or apparatus. This type of article does
not satisfy the description of a welding machine or apparatus.
Accordingly, the LVS is not properly classifiable as a welding
apparatus within heading 8515, HTSUS.
This conclusion is supported by our decision reached in HQ
078500 (6/16/88), which addressed the classification of a micro-
processor-based welding control apparatus. HQ 078500 discussed
the predecessor provisions of both heading 8515 (i.e., item
683.90) and heading 8537 (i.e., item 685.90) under the Tariff
Schedules of the United States (TSUS). The control apparatus in
that case was similar to the LVS in that it accepted input infor-
mation, and used a microprocessor to generate output information
to control a welding machine. We ruled that this type of device
is classifiable as a control panel and not as welding apparatus.
Congress has indicated that earlier tariff decisions must
not be disregarded in applying the HTSUS. The conference report
to the 1988 Omnibus Trade Bill states that "on a case-by-case
basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in
interpreting the HTS[US], particularly where the nomenclature
previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and
no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the
HTS[US]." H. Conf. Rep. No. 576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 550,
reprinted in 1988 U.S. CODE CONG. & ADMIN. NEWS p. 1582. The use
of HQ 078500 as instructive precedent is appropriate in this
case. The tariff provisions previously interpreted are similar,
and the same interpretation is also required by the HTSUS.
Heading 8537, HTSUS, provides for boards, panels and other
bases for electric control or the distribution of electricity,
including those incorporating instruments and apparatus of
chapter 90. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding
System Explanatory Notes (ENs) state that the goods of this
heading cover complex control panels for machine tools. ENs
85.37, p. 1391 (1992). In addition, this heading covers
numerical control panels with built-in automatic data processing
(ADP) machines, which are generally used to control machine
tools. ENs 85.37. The LVS satisfies these descriptions. It is
a complex control device with a built in ADP machine and
instruments of chapter 90 (i.e., camera and laser sensor) used to
control a welding machine or apparatus. While the ENs are not
dispositive, they provide a commentary on the scope of each
heading and offer guidance for interpretation of the HTSUS. H.
Conf. Rep. No. 576, p. 549. Accordingly, we consider the above
ENs instructive for determining that the LVS satisfies the terms
of heading 8537, HTSUS. More specifically, the LVS is described
within subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for boards,
panels and other bases for the electric control or the distribu-
tion of electricity and for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V.
In HQ 085281 (11/8/89), Customs discussed the classification
of the Optimizer system (OS). The OS used a scanner to measure
logs, a process control then used this information to make the
necessary calculations to instruct a saw to properly cut logs.
We ruled that this type of merchandise was also classifiable
within subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUS. This system is similar to
the LVS in that they both use a sensor to gather information
which is processed and then used to control the operation of
another device (i.e., welding apparatus or saw). Therefore, we
consider this decision instructive for also classifying the LVS
within subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUS.
It is also contended that the components of the LVS are
alternatively classifiable as parts of welding apparatus. 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. Section XVI, note 2(a). As discussed previously, the
LVS satisfies the terms of heading 8537, HTSUS. Accordingly, the
LVS components are precluded from classification as parts of
welding apparatus pursuant to the above legal note.
The Laser Vision System is classifiable within subheading
8537.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for boards and other bases for
electric control or the distribution of electricity, for a
voltage not exceeding 1,000 V. HQ 083189 is affirmed.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division