10 Tips for Getting Better Steel Quotations

Over the years we have had many tens of thousands of RFQ’s from customers. Some customers are brilliant – being very clear and precise about what they require.

This is the worst:

“Good evening. I am happy to have an opportunity to introduce my company a shipbuilders and require a large amount of steel in future. So I am editing this email for the prices and quotations of various kinds of steel for shipbuilding. I would be happy if your company mails my firm the quotation”

He was a new manager in a new company and we spent the time with him to ascertain his needs and it turned out to be a great relationship.

Most stockholders put emails like this in the bin.

Even when you get a quote there are lots of little things that make a stockholder life easier – and thus improve the quality and the speed of the quote to you.

Stockholders generally focus on plates, pipes, sections, carbon, stainless, specials, etc.
If you send an enquiry with various types of steel it is helpful to add whether a partial offer is acceptable.

If there is a specification sheet for the steel, send it through.
Typing A516 70 N 5 @ 15 x 3000 x 6000 is quick – but if the specification requires UT testing or a particular CEQ then it costs more in the long run.

State the country of origin
Steels from different country have different prices because of the different quality levels. If you want cheap steel – say Chinese/Indian accepted. If you want high quality steel, say German steel required. This will reduce the number of quotes that won’t be suitable for your project

State if equivalents are allowed
Are A516 70 and P355 the same? No, but for most purposes they are close enough. In some they won’t be. By stating which equivalents are acceptable you can reduce the number of non-qualifying quotes and save time.

Dimensions
Most mills roll plate for stock in standard dimensions. In metric systems these are typically 1.5,2,2.5 and 3m widths. In Imperial 3, 6 and 9 foot. Lengths go to a similar pattern. Stockholders may have plates exactly the size you require – but probably not. They then try and give you the best dimensions available. Designing to standard stock sizes can make comparison easier – and also reduce wastage.

Thicknesses
Some thicknesses aren’t rolled on a stock basis, or are available in a metric or imperial stockist. Identifying the range of thicknesses acceptable helps us give you better quotes. For example, 40.1mm would often be offered at 45mm because the next thickness up from 40 is 45mm and that increases costs by 12%. If you said 40mm is ok in the quote then there is a good saving.

Syntax
Generally it’s best to ask for [Number of pieces @ Thickness x Width x Length]. This format is used because it’s the basis for how the mills set up their rolling; most stockholders follow the same approach

Timescale
When do you need the steel delivered? This helps the stockholder work out the best trade-off between poor sizes and fast delivery or perfect sizes and slower delivery

Reason for the RFQ
We’re always happy to support you in bids. Knowing when the bid is due to be awarded means that we won’t be chasing you tomorrow.

Project Information
If you are competing to win a project on technical quality, on price on delivery speed let the stockholder know. That way offers can be optimized to support you and help you win the work. How are you competing?

There is a skill in writing good RFQ’s. Some companies have a standard format that they use every time. This means that they ensure they gather all the information required, and it’s fast for stockholders to provide it. Other companies let buyers do it their own way – some are good and some have room for improvement. And some, like the shipbuilder above don’t get many quotes.

These tips should help you procure faster and spend less time qualifying the quotes that you receive. They should work for carbon and stainless plates and all the other steel forms out there

We can help you with the carbon steel plates – especially when you have a tough customer to please.

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