So, you are in the process of tendering for that big contract and it is a requirement that you make use of the SEIFSA indices to assist you in accurately pricing your tender contract. At this point in the tendering process you might not be aware of who SEIFSA is or that SEIFSA even has price indices available. At the same time, you might not have a clear understanding of what an index is, or what the purpose of using an index is, let alone have knowledge of a SEIFSA price index.

The aim of this blog is to give you as a tenderer a basic understanding of indices and to give you an overview of the SEIFSA indices on offer. Lastly, we aim to give you a brief explanation as to why you should use the SEIFSA price indices in the tendering processes and subsequent escalations.

In the most basic sense you use an index as a statistical measure of changes in two or more data points. What I mean here is that one index point (e.g. 102) tells you nothing. In order for indices to have meaning, you need to have at least two index points to calculate the percentage increase or decrease between any two periods. Just by looking at the indices you should already have an indication whether the price of what you are interested in (e.g. domestic merchant steel) increased or decreased between two periods.

Let me show you with an example:


seifsa-indices example


The table above is a hypothetical example giving index points which reflect domestic merchant steel prices for the months of January 2017 and February 2017. Without doing any calculations you can see that there was an increase in domestic merchant steel prices. How? The index value in February 2017 is higher than that of January 2017. Now that you know that the price of domestic merchant steel increased between these two months, you can easily calculate by how much. You can make use of either of the following formulas to calculate the percentage change in the price of domestic merchant steel:

  1. ((New/Old) – 1) *100
  2. (New-Old/Old) *100

Both of the above formulas will give the same results. Based on both formulas and the figures cited in the example, the change in the price will be 2%. There are some advantages to using indices.

Firstly, an index hides sensitive information such as the source of the information or the actual price level and secondly, it minimises errors in computation that are often associated with larger numbers. It is much easier to type 125.1 as opposed to 138 789, which allows for reduced errors. It is also important to understand that a price index only indicates the extent to which the price of an item has changed when compared to some earlier point it time. Moreover, a price index does not give you an indication of the actual level of the variable which means that you won’t know what the exact price of the item (i.e. domestic merchant steel) is. Important to understand is that when the domestic merchant steel price increases by 10% in a given month, that 10% increase will be reflected in the index for that same month.

Now that you have some background on indices, allow me to go into a little bit more detail regarding the SEIFSA indices. Every month SEIFSA updates and publish over 200 price indices in the SEIFSA Price and Index Pages (PIPS). We have time series for some of these price indices dating as far back as the 1960s.

SEIFSA PIPS cover a wide spectrum of price indices which includes but is not limited to labour, transport, overheads and materials. The SEIFSA labour indices cover all 13 job gradings as set out by the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC). Although our labour indices relate mostly to the Metals and Engineering sector, we also publish labour indices for other industrial sectors.

In addition to indices for petroleum products, we publish two road freight (transport) indices that you will apply based on your primary activity of business. For overheads, SEIFSA PIPS offer you indices for both office and production. We also have indices that you could apply if you have an imported component in your cost breakdown. These include exchange rates and imported unit value indices (UVI).

SEIFSA PIPS offer a wide array of indices relating to materials. In terms of steel, our offering includes but is not limited to domestic merchant and producer price and stainless-steel indices. A number of material indices relevant to different type of engineering activities are also available along with commodity indices.

When you make use of PIPS in your tender submission you can be assured that your tender bid is comprehensive and competitive because you will be able to accurately calculate the changes in inputs that affect the final cost of manufacturing. SEIFSA PIPS is the best tool to use to use for contract price adjustment as well.


Author Malcolm

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