The manufacturing of hard disk drive storage is a highly competitive industry due to ever changing technology and the introduction of solid-state storage. Therefore manufacturers have introduced business improvement techniques to help leverage manufacturing advantages over competitors. This paper aims to investigate the integration of business improvement methodologies with intelligent techniques for the improvement of manufacturing efficiency. The authors use a case study based on the disentangling of causal relationships during the manufacturing of hard disk drive components. This paper reports on the application of intelligent system techniques to aid implementation of business improvement methodologies within this manufacturing environment. The results reported highlight that significant gains may be made when utilizing such a hybrid approach. The approach is validated by determining the secondary effects that degraded a previously implemented six-sigma project and also by identifying areas of investigation that enabled engineers to improve process yield.