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Construction to begin on Airedale factory

The new factory will open next year
The new factory will open next year and provide test facilities unmatched in Europe

UK: A new Airedale is to rise from the ashes of last year’s devastating fire with construction about to start on a new £25m factory on the company’s existing site in Rawdon.

The original factory, which was partially destroyed by fire last September, has now been demolished and the ground levelled to make way for the new factory. Plans are at the final design stage and the 55-week construction schedule will see completion in August next year

With an area of 166x30m, the footprint will be broadly similar to the original plant but the internal layout will be totally redesigned to meet the needs of a modern, world-class production facility, positioning Airedale for further growth. Attention is also being paid to the factory’s environmental impact and the plans look likely to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘very good’

In addition to a new production shop floor, the proposed new building will include a greatly enhanced r&d and test centre – with the capability to test larger products – offices and training facilities.

The Airedale factory last year after the fire
The Airedale factory last year after the fire
The Airedale site now
The Airedale site now, flattened and ready for construction to begin

The fire last year, reportedly the largest in West Yorkshire for many years, was a frightening spectacle but no one was more affected by it than Airedale md Clive Parkman: “I was in a complete state of shock that night. We had disaster recovery plans in place but nothing prepares you for that,” he told the Cooling Post.

The fact that the company was up and running with limited production within two weeks was thanks to a combination of skilful organisation, determination and good fortune.

Managing the concerns of the workforce was a priority but Clive Parkman has paid tribute to their support and commitment. “They all wanted to come in with a brush to help clear up,” he says.

His appreciation of the support that Airedale received from customers and suppliers has been well documented but Clive Parkman is still keen to repeat his appreciation. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without them,” he says.

Fortunately the machine shop and paint shop both survived the fire. There was a short delay while a new trench was dug to provide power but otherwise it was unaffected. The conference rooms of a local hotel provided emergency office facilities while new temporary premises were sought.

Fortunately a vacant property, formerly leased by a major fitted-kitchen manufacturer and just six miles from the Rawdon site, became available. The business estate on Gelderd Lane was also able to provide accommodation for the company’s paint shop and a further facility provided extra warehousing. Meanwhile the machine shop was relocated to a site in nearby Pudsey while contractors got to work demolishing the old building.

Visiting the Gelderd Lane site you would be forgiven for thinking that the company had been there for years, so seamlessly do they appear to have adapted to their new accommodation. Apart from the increased logistics of operating from the four sites, the only obvious difference is that coil production has been temporarily outsourced. Even the test labs have been reconstructed at the Gelderd Lane site.

Now, with construction of the new factory about to start, thoughts have turned to the future.

“It is incumbent on us to go from strength to strength, maintaining skills and product capabilities as a UK company,” said Clive Parkman. “Our parent company Modine is fully supportive of that.”

Clive Parkman also promises that the new factory will provide Eurovent and UL certified test facilities unmatched in Europe with facilities to handle chillers up to 2MW and 240kW PACs.


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