AIR Conditioning manufacturer Airedale International will be fully operational at its rebuilt Rawdon site from early January.

The business, whose previous factory was destroyed by a major blaze in September 2013, has been gradually returning production to the Leeds Road site over recent months ahead of the official handover of the new premises by contractor BAM Construct UK today (FRI) .

Airedale International, which designs and manufactures high technology cooling systems for data centres, healthcare, industrial and commercial customers worldwide, decided to demolish and replace its fire-ravaged Rawdon site with a 22,000 sq metre base geared up to 21st Century manufacturing needs.

The new development has included significant investment in new capital equipment, to improve production efficiency. It also includes a state-of-the-art research and development centre capable of testing systems of up to two megawatts which is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in northern Europe.

A wide range of temperatures and voltages can be applied when testing systems, replicating divergent global conditions under which cooling units are likely to operate across the globe.

The company, which employs around 300 people locally, has been operating from a temporary base in Gelderd Road, Leeds, where 100 administrative staff will remain until the New Year. Airedale said it would be fully operational at Rawdon from January 4 after the Christmas shut-down.

Clive Parkman, managing director, said: “After a year where we celebrated further awards successes for innovation in both product development and service delivery, we fully expect 2016 to mark another landmark in Airedale’s history. Our on-going R&D programme will see us continue to set the bar for the development of high efficiency, high performance systems and solutions and we’re targeting new geographical and vertical markets to supplement our existing base.

“With more than 600 people employed by the group in the UK, South Africa and Dubai, jobs and livelihoods depended on our ability to overcome the significant challenges that faced us in September 2013. I would like to thank our workforce, customers and suppliers for their loyalty to the business.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors to our new facility next year.”

Founded in 1974 by Bradford engineers, the late Alan Duttine and Peter Midgley in Batley, Airedale acquired the former mill site in Rawdon in 1979 and built the demolished factory in 1984, which was formally opened by the Duchess of Kent.

The company, which has manufacturing bases in three continents and customers in more than 60 countries, achieevd the Queen's Award for Export in 1989.

An official opening of the new site will be held in May 2016.