Ms. Alicia Campbell
Yaskawa America Inc.
Motorman Robotics Division
100 Automation Way
Miamisburg, OH 45342
RE: The tariff classification of robots without controllers from Japan.
Dear Ms. Campbell:
In your letter dated October 20, 2011, you requested a tariff classification ruling.
The instant merchandise is described as four types of robots imported without their programmed controllers. Model ES165 will be imported either (1) with an integrated spot weld harness (or gisou harness) attached along the upper arm of the robot if used for spot welding or (2) without the harness if it is to be used for a handling application. You have stated that models HP20 and MH6 can be used in multiple applications such as handling, arc welding, cutting or dispensing. There is no evidence that any one of these applications represents the principal use. Model MA1400 is an arc welding unit incorporating torch cabling through the hollow upper arm of the robot.
In their imported condition, Model ES165, with a spot weld harness (or gisou harness), and Model MA1400, with torch cabling, incorporate physical components which dedicate these models to welding applications, i.e., spot welding and arc welding, respectively. These models have been wired for a specific application prior to shipment.
Handling is said to be one of the operations which Model ES165 (without the harness), Model HP20 and Model MH6 are capable of performing. However, at time of importation, these three models are generic in nature. They are not specifically designed or programmed for any one specific task or application, e.g., handling, at time of import.
In your letter, you inquire as to whether these models, imported without their programmed controllers are classifiable as other industrial robots under subheading 8479.50.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), or as parts of robots under subheading 8479.90.9440, HTSUS. You also inquire as to whether you can continue to classify your firm’s robots based upon HQ ruling 965638 dated July 16, 2002. Said ruling was issued to Sonnenberg & Anderson on behalf of Motoman, Inc. In their imported condition, the robots described in HQ ruling 965638 consisted of “an articulated arm or manipulator on a base, a controller designated MRC, MRC II or XRC, and a programming or teaching pendant. Prior to importation, each robot is “configured” …”. CBP relied on a different set of facts in HQ ruling 965638 than are currently under consideration. While the circumstances of importation are the same, i.e., imported in an incomplete condition, the physical components present at time of importation differ. In HQ ruling 965638, the controllers were present but the appropriate end-of-arm tooling was missing. Here, the controllers are not present at time of importation nor are the robots “configured”. Therefore, HQ ruling 965638 is applicable in the instant case only with regard to the application of General Rule of Interpretation 2(a), HTSUS.
General Rule of Interpretation 2(a), HTSUS, 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. It is this office’s opinion that the robots imported without controllers have the essential character of an industrial robot. While this office agrees that a robot must be combined with a controller to be functional in any way, HQ ruling 967390 of April 1, 2005 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. Thus, following the rationale put forth in HQ ruling 965638, robots imported without their controllers would not be classified as parts but rather as incomplete robots possessing the essential character of complete robots. HQ ruling 965637 of July 16, 2002 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.
HQ ruling 962105 stated that the Explanatory Notes (“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. 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. Model ES165 (without the harness), Model HP20 and Model MH6 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, i.e., those capable of performing a variety of functions simply by using different tools. Model ES165 robot, imported with the spot weld harness (or gisou harness), and Model MA1400 perform functions that are specifically described in heading 8515, HTSUS.
The applicable subheadings for the robots imported without controllers will be as follows:
Model ES165 robot, imported without the spot weld harness (or gisou harness), and Models HP20 and MH6 robots will be 8479.50.0000, HTSUS, which provides for Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter, parts thereof: Industrial robots, not elsewhere specified or included. The rate of duty will be 2.5 percent ad valorem.
Model ES165 robot imported with integrated spot weld harness (or gisou harness) will be 8515.21.0000, HTSUS, which provides for Electric (including electrically heated gas), laser or other light or photon beam, ultrasonic, electron beam, magnetic pulse or plasma arc soldering, brazing or welding machines and apparatus, whether or not capable of cutting; electric machines and apparatus for hot spraying of metals or cermets; parts thereof: Machines and apparatus for resistance welding of metal: Fully or partly automatic. The rate of duty will be Free.
Model MA1400 robot imported with integrated torch cabling will be 8515.31.0000, HTSUS, which provides for Electric (including electrically heated gas), laser or other light or photon beam, ultrasonic, electron beam, magnetic pulse or plasma arc soldering, brazing or welding machines and apparatus, whether or not capable of cutting; electric machines and apparatus for hot spraying of metals or cermets; parts thereof: Machines and apparatus for arc (including plasma arc) welding of metals: Fully or partly automatic. The rate of duty will be 1.6 percent ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
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 Patricia O’Donnell at (646) 733-3011.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division